Arugula and Mâche Salad with Chèvre Toasts (serves 6)
Arugula has a pleasant bitterness and mâche has a nutty tang. In this lovely first course, each is complemented by smooth goat's cheese, dried figs and toasted hazelnuts. Use fresh hazelnuts, if possible, or shelled whole ones (Photo above).
3 tbsp. (45 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) sugar
4 cups (1 L) each arugula and mâche
6 oz. (170 g) mild chèvre (goat's cheese)
2 tbsp. (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 skinny baguette, sliced diagonally into 18 pieces, 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
6-8 dried figs, sliced 1/2 cup (125 mL)
lightly toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and 1/2 cup of oil. Whisk in salt, pepper and sugar; adjust seasoning to taste. Set to one side.
Wash, trim and thoroughly dry greens. Toss together in another large bowl until well combined. In a small bowl, using the back of a fork, soften cheese with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it's of spreading consistency.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Brush both sides of baguette slices with remaining olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 5 minutes or until just golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Slowly drizzle dressing over greens (you may not need all of it) and toss lightly. Arrange greens on salad plates. Evenly scatter nuts and figs on top.
Spread softened cheese on warm toasts. Garnish each salad with three chèvre toasts. Serve immediately.
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