This hearty salad explodes with wonderfully heady aromas and flavors: the tangy richness of the bubbling-hot goat cheese, the intense fruitiness of dried cherries and apricots soaked in balsamic vinegar, and the sweet-spicy taste of the warm dressing. Buy a good, fresh, creamy goat cheese - whether imported or domestic - shaped into a log that you can neatly cut into rounds. Depending on the brand, you might actually have to buy two or more separate cheeses to get the required amount. Sun - or kiln - dried cherries, a specialty of the Pacific Northwest, are available with increasing frequency in specialty food stores and well-stocked supermarkets. If you can’t find them, use seedless raisins.
- For Dressing:
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dried cherries
- 8 dried apricots, cut into 1/8-inch-wide slivers
- 1 teaspoon creamy Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- For Salad:
- 12 cups baby spinach leaves, thoroughly washed
- 1 pound fresh, creamy goat cheese, divided into 8 equal rounds
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- White pepper
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
FOR DRESSING: Put the vinegar in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until bubbles begin to appear around its edges. Remove the pan from the heat, add the dried cherries and apricots, cover, and let them steep for 10 minutes.
Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and set them aside. With a small fork or wire whisk, stir the mustard and honey into the pan of vinegar until blended. Stirring continuously over medium-low heat, pour in the oil in a thin, steady stream. Turn off the heat, return the dried fruit to the dressing and cover the pan.
Preheat the broiler.
FOR SALAD: Arrange the spinach leaves in beds on large individual serving plates.
Line a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all the cheese rounds with aluminum foil. Lightly coat each goat cheese round all over with some olive oil and place it on the foil. Sprinkle the cheese rounds lightly with salt and white pepper.
Put the cheese rounds under the broiler, keeping a close eye on them and removing them as soon as they begin to show signs of bubbling and melting, 1-2 minutes.
With a spatula, transfer 2 cheese rounds to each bed of spinach. With a large spoon, drizzle the warm dressing and dried fruit evenly over the cheese and spinach. Garnish with pecans and chives. Serve immediately.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Reader's Digest. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
571 calories; 51g total fat; 35mg cholesterol; 353mg sodium; 13g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; 17g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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