Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fresh Herb Goat Cheese Spread

Here is a fantastic new appetizer spread/dip that is a guaranteed hit with any crowd...I am always asked for the recipe!  It took me a while to make this cause we do not often have the soft goat cheese in our fridge but now that we all enjoy this spread, goat cheese is almost always on-hand.  It is perfect for the upcoming BBQ party season.  This tastes really fresh, nutritional in it's 'rawness' (a lot of calcium in parsley)and hugely versatile IF you have leftovers!

If you do not think you are a 'goat cheese' fan, please do not pass on this.  Tasters have often told me it does not taste like the strong goat cheese they expected which would be due to the yogurt mixed in and the strong herb flavours on top.    The yogurt also helps to create a creamy, smooth cheese that is more spreadable than just goat cheese.  And the mix of herbs is really versatile.  Feel free to mix it up with what you have growing in your own garden to create something unique every time.

Inspiration came from friends Carolyn and Debbi who made this from the Simply Balanced cookbook.  I found a few tweaks of my own made it even more enjoyable for my liking and easier to make.  Let me know what you think!  Be sure to read all the variations and options for using a spread like this in your meals.

Fresh Herb Goat Cheese Spread

1 - 1 1/2 cup fresh cilantro - finely chopped or snipped
1/2 - 1 cup fresh parsley - finely chopped or snipped
1/2 cup additional fresh herbs like basil, thyme, mint, tarragon - optional
150 grams Goat cheese or small cheese log (picture above is a large goat cheese 300 g)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes - finely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts - finely chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Add the goat cheese and yogurt in a small bowl.  Using a spoon, combine these to create a smooth, spreadable cheese.  Spread this mixture into a 9" pie plate or larger plate making about a 9" circle.  It may not appear to be a thick layer but the cheese has a strong flavour and the amount works with the fresh herb layer.

In a separate bowl, add the parsley, cilantro and any other herbs you are using.  The fastest and
 easiest way to finely chop the herbs is to put the herbs (and stems included) into a bowl and
using a kitchen scissor, start snipping the herbs until all are finely chopped.  No need for a big
cutting board and knife and mess to clean up.  Love this method!!! 

Also, the amount of herbs is not too critical.  I prefer cilantro to parsley hence I use more but feel free to mix it up.  And the overall amount of herbs you want (before finely chopped) is about 2 cups of loosely packed herbs. By the time I am done mincing it, I get about 1 cup of finely chopped herbs.

Add in the garlic, oil, salt and pepper, sun dried tomatoes and walnuts. 

Let the mixture to sit for 15 - 30 minutes, if you have time, to allow the flavours to blend.

Add the fresh herb pesto on top of the goat cheese mixture. 
 It presents nice if you leave goat cheese showing on outer edge.

Serve immediately with your crackers of choice or refrigerate until needed. 

Variation 1 - Lemon
Add the zest of half a lemon to the herb mixture before layering on the goat cheese.
Variation 2 - Balsamic
Drizzle a quality balsamic vinegar over the herb topping or add it into the herb mixture  before adding to the top of the goat cheese.
Variation 3 - Baked
Combine the cheese and herb mixture and using a oven-proof dish, heat the mixture (about 400F for 10 min) and serve warm with crackers.
Variation 4 - Burger/Sandwich spread
Mix the cheese and herbs and add the spread onto burgers, sandwiches or fresh bread.
Variation 5 - Pasta
Add to pasta for a cheesy herb pasta.  Mix in sauteed zucchini and peppers with a side of BBQ meat.
Variation 6 - Pizza
Mix the cheese and herbs together and add to a pizza crust/tortilla.  Top with olives, tomatoes, red onion, zucchinis and bake/broil.

1 comment:

  1. This recipe AND all the variations look delicious!! Can't wait to try it!