One of the benefits of living in the Midwest, people tout, is that you get to experience all 4 seasons. I’m not so sure about that. I find that our only “springtime” tends to be that 3 day period between having the heat on to cranking the air. Fall fairs a little bit better, where you may actually get a week or two of nice temperatures in between gross humidity and 2 feet of snow. But this year? Summer is looking very springy. And I love it. We’ve really only had a week or two of that gross humidity and 90+ temps (and sure, for me, one of those days was spent with thousands of other people below Wrigley Field waiting out a lightning storm for nearly 2.5 hours so a Pearl Jam concert could resume). This week, temperatures have been in the 70s and absolutely gorgeous. Some people are complaining about it, but me? I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
As you can probably tell, I’m not really a huge fan of the summer we typically experience here. But one thing that’s always good about summer? The produce. We eat copious amounts of sweet berries, devour watermelon, and relish in fresh tomatoes. It’s pretty hard to not like summer, if for nothing other than its bountiful produce.
This salad uses some of those great fresh tomatoes alongside green beans, mixed greens, basil, potatoes, and goat cheese. It makes for a great side or meal on its own, or serve it with a chicken breast for something more substantial. I decided to blanch the green beans and roast the potatoes (the original recipe calls for steaming both), and also made my vinaigrette a bit more acidic (personal preference). I think the goat cheese rounds would also be fabulous if a little panko was added to the coating and they were pan-fried, so I might try that next time.
Farmers’ Market Salad with Spiced Goat Cheese Rounds
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Goat Cheese Rounds
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp. ground cumin
1.5 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. finely minced fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
9-10 oz. goat cheese, sliced into 1/3″ pieces from a log
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. freshly minced thyme
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp. olive oil*
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
8 cups loosely packed mixed salad greens
1/3 cup loosely packed small basil leaves
3/4 lb. small tomatoes, like grape or cherry
1/2 cup black olives
To make the goat cheese rounds, line a baking sheet or plate with wax or parchment paper. In a shallow bowl, mix together the sesame seeds, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Dip the cut sides of the goat cheese rounds into the mixture and then place on the baking sheet. Chill until ready to use.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, thyme, and mustard. Slowly add the olive oil, continuing to whisk, until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*If roasting the potatoes, preheat the oven to 420. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and some extra chopped thyme if you have it. Roast for about 20 minutes or until they are crisp and golden on the outside and soft in the center. Remove and let cool. If not roasting, steam the potatoes and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and add the green beans. Boil for 2 minutes, drain, and then plunge the green beans into an ice bath.
To assemble the salad, mix together the mixed greens and basil in a large bowl. Add just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly. Toss, and then put the mixture on plates or a platter. To the bowl, add the green beans, potatoes, and remaining vinaigrette. Toss lightly to coat and arrange on top of greens. Scatter the tomatoes and olives over everything, and then top with the goat cheese rounds.
*Not needed if you are steaming the potatoes