"Do you remember that salad we ate when we arrived in Paris?"
A blank stare was the first response.
I prodded further, "Literally, the very first thing we ate when we got off the plane."
Still, a blank stare.
"You know, it had tomatoes, goat cheese and this wonderful herbed vinaigrette."
Finally, an answer emerged: "No, I have no memory of it."
Sometimes it's frustrating to be married to someone whose love of food does not quite level up to my very acute memory and sense of flavors. In fairness to dear husband, the salad was consumed on one occasion a full two and a half years ago while we were both exhausted from overnight traveling.
Yet I distinctly remember the view from our outdoor table in the Latin Quarter and another patron feeding pigeons from the bread basket at her table (or is that just a Parisian stereotype?). Mostly, I remember relishing every bite of a very fresh salad with remarkable flavors. In particular, the sun-dried tomatoes were bursting with ripe sweet tomato flavor.
With spring just arriving, I am really craving fresh green things. With a little inspiration, I recreated this salad for dinner last night. The salad mixture is a blend of watercress, finely chopped Belgian endive, and some baby greens. If endive is too bitter for you, or you want to keep things simple, a spring mix would work fine. The greens are dressed in a simple vinaigrette, topped off with marinated artichokes, slow roasted tomatoes and broiled goat cheese. The tomatoes and artichokes need some time, but you could easily make them the night before and then quickly assemble this for dinner the next day.
Mixed Greens with slow roasted tomatoes, marinated artichokes, and broiled goat cheese
Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a first course
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 2 TB EVOO
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 15 ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 teaspoon of herbs de provence
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- a few turns of black pepper
- 1/4 Cup EVOO
- 1 Belgian Endive
- 1 bunch of watercress, cleaned with stems removed
- 2 Cups of baby lettuce, or spring mix
- Roasted and salted sunflower seeds, to top
- 4 ounces of fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 Cup panko
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 medium garlic clove, finely minced
- a few dashes of dried oregano
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 TB EVOO
- salt and pepper, to taste
Roast the tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 275F. Toss the tomatoes with 2 TB of olive oil, and a little bit of salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet with a fresh sprig of rosemary. Slowly roast for 2-3 hours, until the skins are withered and beginning to blacken. Remove and set aside.
Marinate the artichokes
In the meantime, combine the artichokes with 1/4 Cup olive oil, the herbs de provence, red pepper flakes, and some black pepper. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to two days, before serving.
Assemble the salad
Preheat the broiler to High. Divide the goat cheese into four equal rounds (about 1 inch thick each). Lightly brush each round with olive oil, then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Place on an oiled piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and store in the freezer for a few minutes while assembling the other ingredients.
In a large bowl combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until well combined. Toss with the spring mix, endive and watercress until lightly coated. Divide the lettuce between two serving bowls, then top with marinated artichokes, roasted tomatoes, and sunflower seeds.
Remove the goat cheese rounds from the freezer and place into the broiler. Broil for 2-3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Watch carefully, as they will brown quickly.
Place two rounds atop each salad and serve immediately.