Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 4.

Note: You can assemble the cheeses the morning of the day you plan to make this salad. Fleur de sel is a fine-grained French sea salt. This salad could also be done under the broiler. Adapted slightly from “The French Grill,” by Susan Herrmann Loomis.

• 2 round goat cheeses (about 2 1/2 oz. each), firm but young

• Piment d’Espelette or an equal blend of hot and regular paprika

• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 roasted red bell pepper (home-roasted or commercial), cut into 4 equal pieces (about 2- by 2-in.)

• 4 slices slab bacon, rind removed, about 1 oz. each

• Classic Vinaigrette (see recipe or use commercial variety)

• 4 c. lettuce leaves, rinsed, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

• Fleur de sel, optional

Directions

Cut the cheese in half horizontally. If they crumble or break, press them together into a whole. It does not need to look perfect.

Set the pieces of cheese on a work surface, cut side up. Season each piece with piment d’Espelette (or paprika) and a bit of salt and some pepper. Lay a piece of red bell pepper atop each cheese, flattening it out gently so it covers the surface of the cheese. If it hangs over a bit, that’s fine. Wrap each piece of cheese with a piece of bacon so the bacon almost entirely encases the cheese. Tuck the ends of the bacon into another part of the bacon to keep it secure, or use a small trussing skewer to do the same, keeping the skewer horizontal with the cheese (as the cheese will be flipped).

Build a medium-size fire in the charcoal grill, or light up the gas grill using all the burners. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, set the grill over them. Place the cheeses on a sheet of aluminum foil or in a grill basket. (This will keep any cheese from falling into the bottom of your grill as it melts.)

When the grill is very hot, place the cheeses (on the foil or basket) on it right over the heat and grill them until the bacon is golden, about 30 seconds. Using a long metal spatula, turn and repeat. Cover the grill and continue cooking until the cheese begins to melt, an additional minute or so. Transfer the cheese from the grill to a plate or platter.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette until it is well coated. Divide the lettuce among 4 plates. Transfer the hot cheese to each of the salads. Garnish with fleur de sel, if desired, and serve immediately.

 

Classic Vinaigrette

Makes about 1/3 cup.

Note: This will make more vinaigrette than is needed for the cheese salad. Only add the fresh chives to the vinaigrette that you immediately need. From “The French Grill,” by Susan Hermann Loomis.

• 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

• 4 tsp. red wine vinegar

• Sea salt

• 3 tbsp. mild oil, such as peanut oil

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 1 small bunch chives, to add right before you use the vinaigrette

Directions

Whisk the mustard, red wine vinegar and a pinch of sea salt together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the mild oil until the mixture has emulsified, then whisk in the olive oil. Add pepper and more salt to taste.

Right before you plan to use the vinaigrette, mince the chives and stir them into it. Adjust the seasoning.

If the vinaigrette is too thick for your liking, add a bit of warm water to thin it out (not too much as you don’t want it watery). Be sure to shake or stir the vinaigrette before using.