Monday, March 24, 2014

Fig and Chevre Salad with Caramelized Shallots


After a long winter, it's nice to have something fresh and new. Granted, there's not a whole lot of "spring" out there right now. Technically, this one could go year- round, but for some reason it seems great for right now. Maybe it's the light, creamy chevre and fresh burst of lemon zest.

Relatively simple to put together, it's just color, texture, and flavor- a fabulous starter.

No need to mix up a dressing, but the shallots will take a bit of attention as you need to cook them for some time until they're nice and caramelized. But it's worth it (and they can be finished ahead of time and left at room temperature to cool... all you have to do is a bit of last-minute assemblage).

The extremely simple dressing is made up of oil and vinegar. That's it. A drizzle of one and a splash of the other right on top of each individual salad.  Because of this, you want to have a GOOD olive oil, and a GOOD, real, aged, syrupy balsamic vinegar. Nothing black and watery, ok?

Of course, it's a good rule of thumb when you're going with fresh and simple anyway- do with the best you're able. 

Fig and Chevre Salad with Caramelized Shallots
serves 4
Based on Suzanne Goin's cheese course Young Goat Cheese with Dried Figs and Saba
From The AOC Cookbook

1 T (15ml) olive oil
2 T (30 g) butter
4 medium-large shallots (a bit bigger than a golf ball)

Mixed spring greens
Small handful fresh parsley, stems removed and leaves reserved
8-12 dried mission figs (2-3 per person), each stemmed and cut into quarters
4 oz (113g) log of chevre
Good olive oil (maybe about 1T/15 ml per person)
Good balsamic vinegar (maybe about 1t/5 ml per person)
Fresh black pepper
Lemon (for zesting)

Peel the shallots, halve them pole-to-pole, and cut each half into thirds the same way.
Place the olive oil and butter in a skillet and set over medium-low heat. When the butter has completely melted, add the cut shallots, and stir until all are coated. Season with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of fresh black pepper. Flip all the sliced shallots cut side down and let cook about 5 minutes, without stirring. Continue cooking another 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and cook 15 minutes longer, stirring more frequently and shaking the pan a bit so the shallots caramelize evenly.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the shallots cool to room temperature.

Place a nice handful of spring greens in the center of each of four salad plates and sprinkle with parsley leaves.
Add 6 pieces of caramelized shallot to the greens, and scatter eight to twelve quarters of the cut dried figs over the salad.
Top each with a slice of chevre, about 1 oz (28g).
Drizzle salads with olive oil, followed by balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt (such as fleur de sel), and a good grind of fresh black pepper. 
Top it all off with a little shower of fresh lemon zest. 
Serve immediately.


  1. YOU introduced me to shallots---never tried them before.
    I was under the impression that an onion was an onion.

  2. Not quite!
    Though I'm glad the introduction has been made.