For The Love of Goat Cheese

Some things in the culinary world just aren't meant to be alone. They are team players...part of an ensemble...the alto in a four-part harmony...spouses, paired in the most unlikely love affairs. So it is with goat cheese. To savor and delight in goat cheese is to note its surprising effect as compliment and not in spoonfuls. If goat cheese has intimidated you in your culinary endeavors, here are some simple ways to incorporate it: 1. A chunk of goat cheese and some roasted red pepper and eggplant spread, or ajvar, makes an incredible appetizer when warmed up and served with toasted pita wedges.

2. Goat cheese crumbles pair perfectly with honeyed pecans, figs, and endives in salad.

3. Softened goat cheese, served alongside dried fruits, apples, grapes, preserves, and crackers makes for an elegant first course.

Does anyone else have a favorite way of using goat cheese? Oh, please share!

For a dinner option that delivers, try one of my favorites:

 

Almond-Apricot Chicken with Mint Pesto from the EveryDay Food Cookbook

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 1/2 cup sliced almonds 2 ounces goat cheese 4 dried apricots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces Coarse salt and pepper 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon olive oil Mint Pesto (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut a slit in one side of each chicken breast to create a pocket about 4 inches long. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the almonds with the goat cheese and apricots. Stuff each breast with one quarter of the mixture. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. On a plate, combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup almonds. Dip each breast into the beaten egg, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until golden, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to the oven; bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with the mint pesto on the side.

Mint Pesto 3 cups lightly packed fresh mint 1/4 cup sliced almonds 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Coarse salt

In a food processor, combine the mint and almonds; process until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually pour the olive oil through the feed tube. Season with salt. Keep at room temp until ready to serve. Store leftover pesto in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks; let it come to room temp before serving.