Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mizuna and Pear Salad with Goat Cheese Croquettes

Ever since I joined my CSA, I’ve been forced to cook around the ingredients I get each week instead of coming up with ideas and then shopping for them. I’m usually fine with this, as I always cook vegetarian and therefore use tons of vegetables, but some weeks have proven challenging – like the ones where all I get are leafy greens.

Last week was another greens-filled week. Among the bounty was mizuna, escarole, and bok choy, and I had gotten Swiss chard and romaine lettuce the prior week (half of which is still in my fridge…thankfully CSA/greenmarket produce is so fresh that it lasts longer in the fridge than supermarket produce, which is already many days, if not more than a week old by the time you get it). I transformed the escarole and bok choy into a stir fry (along with some green beans – another CSA share item – and tofu) but the mizuna stayed in the fridge. It’s still there, as Matt and I were away last weekend so there went a good four meals through which I could’ve used up a lot of last week’s haul. And let’s not talk about the huge bag of apples and pears that is going to turn into mush any second now.

I’m a fan of pear salads and I particularly like arugula or other peppery greens as the base to complement to sweetness of the pears (in fact, the salad served at my wedding last year was arugula with asian pears).  Since I had way too many pears on hand from our fruit share, and since I was low on creative energy (see this post for reason #1; reason #2 will be revealed next week), I decided to revamp that salad and make it a little more autumnal and substantial by dressing it with an earthy vinaigrette and topping it off with a decadent goat cheese croquette.

It’s not necessarily ground-breaking, but it effectively used up a substantial portion of last week’s share. Of course that space has been filled up just as quickly with this week’s share, which consists of – you guessed it – more greens.


Mizuna and Pear Salad with Goat Cheese Croquettes
serves 2 as a main course

4 ounces goat cheese (preferably the kind that comes shaped in a log)
6 oz mizuna
2 oz romaine lettuce or other salad greens
1 large or 2 small bosc pears
¼ cup walnut halves
1 small shallot
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg
½ cup panko
Canola oil
Salt and pepper


Cut the goat cheese into ½” thick rounds (two if your log is large, four if it’s small). Alternately, you can form two small patties. Place on a plastic-wrap lined plate and freeze for 10 minutes.

While the goat cheese rounds are chilling, prepare the remaining ingredients for the salad.

Wash and dry the mizuna and romaine lettuce. Coarsely chop into bite size pieces and set aside.

Core the pear and cut into large chunks.

Lightly toast the walnuts – you can do this in the microwave (heat on high power for 1 minute, stopping halfway through to shake the nuts around) or in a pan on the stovetop (medium-high heat until the nuts just start to release fragrance). Cool on a plate, then break into pieces

Finely mince the shallot and transfer 1 tablespoon to a small bowl. Add the wine, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly stream in the oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. Alternately, you could add everything to a jar and shake well to combine – my preferred method. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the salads by distributing the lettuces, pears, and walnuts between two plates.

Place the flour in a small dish and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk well. Place the panko in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the goat cheese rounds from the freezer. Lightly dust each one with the flour mixture, then dip in the egg mixture and finally in the panko, then set aside.

Add canola oil to a small nonstick pan (no more than 10” diameter) to coat the bottom (could be up to ¼ cup depending on the size of your pan) and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the goat cheese croquettes and cook each side until lightly golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side. (I actually made these in this tiny little egg pan – it’s perfect for these small croquettes as the diameter of the pan is so small that you only need to use 1 tablespoon of oil for each croquette rather than 2-3 tablespoons for each if you were using a larger pan).

Briefly drain the croquettes on paper towels. Drizzle each salad with half the vinaigrette, then top each salad with one or two croquettes. Serve immediately.

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