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Crottin Salad with Pears, Fennel and Currants

The French goat cheese known as Crottin de Chavignol keeps for weeks, getting harder and more flavorful as it ages. When well aged, it’s excellent grated into vinaigrettes or salads, where even a bit brings the taste of France to a dish. Any aged goat’s milk cheese, such as Selles-sur-Cher or Redwood Hill’s California Crottin, would be delicious in this salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 aged Crottin de Chavignol or other small, round aged goat
      cheese, about 2 oz. (60 g), coarsely grated
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 1/2 oz./45 g) mâche or baby arugula
  • 3 pears, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g) dried currants

Directions:

Cut the stems and feathery leaves from each fennel bulb. Reserve a few of the leaves for garnish and discard the remainder and the stems. Trim off the base from each bulb. If the outer layer of either bulb is tough or discolored, discard it. Using a mandoline or a very sharp chef’s knife, cut each bulb lengthwise into paper-thin slices. Then, using a knife, cut each slice lengthwise into strips 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide.

In a large bowl, using a fork, mix together the vinegar, olive oil, 1 Tbs. of the cheese, the salt and white pepper. Add the fennel and toss to coat well. Divide the mâche among 4 to 6 plates. Top with some of the fennel, then add the pears and a sprinkle of currants. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and garnish with a few fennel leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cheese, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2010).