Ok, so maybe it can’t vote, but it CAN multi-task better than any other kitchen appliance I own. And I’m including my onion-chopper-potato-slicer-light-bulb-remover-nail-clipper. It was 4 a.m., the infomercial host had an Aussie accent and I was weak. Don’t ask.
The very first time I ever had goat cheese I was blindsided! It was served on a chicken breast drizzled with a lemon-butter sauce and topped with a creamy, silky medallion of goat cheese. It coated my tongue in a blissful attempt to numb all other senses. It worked. The fork fell from my hand in slow motion, a hundred doves took flight into the sunset and the waiters and chefs began an elaborate sequence of choreography and show tunes. At least that’s how I remember it. All the drama aside, I was impressed. Who was keeping this a secret from me and what did I ever do to them to deserve such torture? This wasn’t cream cheese, nor was it mascarpone. Not crème fraiche or even feta. The tart, sweet bite of this cheese was all I needed to form a lifelong bond.
Let’s all take a break now to compose ourselves, because, the purpose of this entry is to give you a recipe that can serve many, many duties. I’m going to change the vehicle to give the cheese a completely new taste. Here is what you will need.
Goat Cheese Filling
8 oz Goat cheese (softened)
1/2 cup shelled Pistachios (roughly chopped)
1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice of Half a Lemon
Zest of Half a Lemon
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. If the cheese seems too stiff, add a few tablespoons of ricotta.
My first treatment requires zucchini. With a mandolin, slice 6 – 8 zucchini (or yellow squash, or both!) into 1/4″ planks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some kosher salt on both sides. Grill, roast or broil until slightly browned.
When the zucchini is finished, allow to cool. Transfer each piece to a plate or counter surface. Start by added a dollop of the cheese mixture at one end and rolling the zucchini up. This will create 35-40 little bites of zucchini and goat cheese. A great picnic food to take to the pool or the park as it transports easily and is even easier to create!
You can use less zucchini and hoard some of the cheese mixture (like I did) and use it for the recipe below!
For this go ’round, you will need homemade pasta dough (I know, stay with me) dried cherries, some red wine, fresh basil and some butter. Now I saw you cringe when you read “home made pasta dough”. The truth is, it’s easier than you think, and it freezes brilliantly! The recipe I have is perfect for a 10 minute pasta (no kidding) and will be in my cookbook, due out this fall! (I had to, couldn’t resist.)
Roll your dough out into very thin strips, or run it through a pasta machine on the 3rd to last setting. Add about half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of the cheese mixture to one end and fold over the other. Seal the ends with water and press with a fork. I usually create about 5-6 ravioli per person, depending on the size of the ravioli. Allow them to sit at room temperature while you boil about 6 cups of water.
In another pan, add about 1 1/2 cups of red wine and a tablespoon of butter and bring to a simmer. Add about 1/4 cup of dried cherries to the wine. Eric’s Tip: I only cook with wine that I would serve a guest. That stuff in the grocery stores? Don’t bother! Reduce the wine by about half.
When the water comes to a boil, add your ravioli. Let boil for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the water and plate immediately.
Remove the wine from the heat and add about 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil and another tablespoon of butter. Drizzle over the ravioli and garnish with basil and grated parmesan cheese.
Cherries and pistachios? What could be better?
How else could you use this versatile goat cheese mixture? I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate my favorite ingredients! Hopefully I have added goat cheese to yours!