Every café in Paris served a version of the irresistible “salade avec chevre chaud.” There are fancier versions with pastry crusts, and other additions, a few more veggies, or crispy lardons of smoked pork, or toasted almonds, but the basic version is delicious and simple to make at home. You just need to pay a little attention to the ingredients and make a homemade vinaigrette (it only takes a minute).
To serve four:
The key ingredient: the goat cheese they use is not as tangy and crumbly as the goat cheese made in Texas. It’s milder and creamier, more like the texture of camembert. One version was named Sainte Maure, but I think there were several types. Don’t stress too much, whatever you find will be good.
A small head of lettuce (maybe butter lettuce, or bibb). You want the texture of the leaves, very fresh and tender, not a “spring mix.” Wash and tear into bite-sized pieces and keep the bowl in the fridge.
Make vinaigrette with a secret ingredient at the last: Use a small metal bowl and mix with the back of a tablespoon, not a whisk. The chef for the cooking class says whisking olive oil makes it bitter.
Put a dollop of Dijon mustard in the bottom of the bowl. Maybe ½ tsp.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix with the bottom of the spoon to dissolve it.
Add two Tbs. vinegar (they used white wine vinegar, but they said any will do) and mix with the bottom of the spoon.
Slowly mix in four tablespoons of olive oil, one at a time, incorporating each before adding more.
Then, mix in the secret ingredient, a squeeze of honey (maybe ½ tsp.).
Taste for seasoning.
The goat cheese crouton:
For each diner, toast a thin slice of a sturdy brown bread. It should be crunchy.
Just before serving, top each toast with a round of goat cheese and warm it in a medium oven until it’s soft.
To assemble the salad, put the lettuce in the bowl, drizzle with dressing (not too much, just about a tablespoon per person) and garnish with a piece of cheese toast for each person. Bon appetit!