Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Housemade Croutons and Creamy Goat Cheese Mint Dressing

As I'm sitting here munching on fresh raw sugar snap peas and dipping them in my mint and goat cheese dressing, I realize I forgot to share the recipe with you. May I offer you my deepest apologies.

On Sunday I went to a cookout and brought along a nice salad. I knew there would be a lot of people there, so I made a big one. I bought an aluminum roasting pan from the grocery store to use as the container. If I left it, I wouldn't be heartbroken...and if I left it, it can go in the recycling bin and not the trash. Truth be told, I neither have nor have room for that size of a serving dish.

The previous day, I went to the Farmer's Market. Around 10 AM, it was already packed! It seemed to be mostly people buying things to plant, rather than shopping for food. Once I found a parking space, I bought my cutomary RC Cola in a glass bottle and walked around. I prefer to walk around and sample things before I buy. You never know when the next guy's strawberries are going to be better.

On this particular day, the stawberries were out in full force. It's still early in the strawberry season here and it's only now beginning to be over 90 degrees. I think the weekend after next will be good for strawberries. There were many farmers on Saturday with strawberries that were still crunchy and tart, except for one man. I found a farmer who looked remarkably like Santa Claus. He even had a red shirt on under his bib overalls. He had for sale a little cardboard box with a gallon of the sweetest, but not too sweet, and softest, but not too soft, strawberries you'd ever had. They were perfect for jam making. And they were only $8! His berries were $4 less than everyone else's for the same amount! I also bought a pound of baby spinach for $2, 3 bunches of radishes, a big bunch of green onions, a pint of sugar snap peas (I'm powering through them right now!) and a lovely goat cheese.

If you happen to go to the NC State Farmer's Market, know that Debra Lee's produce is my favorite. They are closed on Sundays. On Saturday, Beth Moore herself told me that she "doesn't do samples!" She has a permanent stand there. There were lots of tomatoes for sale and everyone was giving out a free sample. I wasn't looking for lunch, just to see who had the best quality! Well, Miss Moore, I won't be back.

For Sunday's salad, I used the baby spinach, radishes, an English cucumber, and the green onions. I made croutons from a whole grain baguette and a creamy goat cheese dressing. The inspiration for the dressing came from the goat cheese and the giant tub of plain yogurt I mistakenly bought. I swear I thought I picked up vanilla!

Without further ado, I present you Goat Cheese Mint dressing and homemade croutons.


1 baguette
salt and pepper to taste
a lot of olive oil

Dice baguette into large bite size pieces. Place in bowl and coat with liberal amount of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Toss or stir well. Lay out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and crispy.

I used a multigrain baguette this time and it was great! It added a nice texture to the crouton. I encourage you to try this.

I really like warm croutons on a salad. They are still yummy when they've cooled.

Feel free to add minced garlic or herbs to this.

Use a good quality olive oil and don't skimp!

Goat Cheese Mint Dressing:

4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
6 oz fat free plain yogurt
2 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSP minced fresh mint leaves
juice of 3 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In stand mixer with whisk attachment, food processor, large bowl with hand mixer, large bowl with whisk, or however you want to make this, add goat cheese and yogurt. Mix until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add garlic and mint and mix again. Add lemon juice while whisking. Mix well again. While mixing, slowly drizzle in oil. Add salt and pepper and mix once again. Store in air tight container, keep in fridge and serve cold.

I found this dressing stayed emulsified when kept cold.

Be sure to use the herb labeled as "mint" rather than some fancy schmancy mint. Don't add too much mint. You don't want a Creamy Toothpaste Dressing.

To make this into a dip for veggies, strain the yogurt overnight first to thicken it up.

I found this needs to sit for a while to let the flavors marry. Don't be alarmed if you get an overwhelming flavor of olive oil when you first taste it. You're tasting it for the seasoning. Give it and hour or so and taste it again. It's like magic!


3 Bay B Chicks said...

Oh my goodness! This sounds so yummy! Thanks for sharing Meg. I do love me some goat cheese. :) If I ever visit NC I'll be sure to head to the farmer's market in your area.


peewee said...

That sounds like THE BEST dressing!!! Thanks!

Debbie said...

Delish! Sounds like a winner.

CailinMarie said...

I'm going to have try this... very soon... it sounds amazing! Farmer's Market is just getting started up around here... Saturday's in Merchant Square we get a variety of things but the honey that comes in from gloucester rocks

CailinMarie said...

oh... and I have a request/challenge... I've been wanting to make granola-ish snack bars/cookies for the kids (more snack than treat) but it cannot have nuts (dragon's alergies) or eggs (more allergies) and all recipes I've found us a TON of corn syrup... I know it needs to stick together but I"d prefer they still had teeth...

any ideas?

Meg said...


I'm all over it! Give me a few days! I lvoe these challenges.