Does anyone remember the strawberry and goat cheese rage? It’s so crazy how food trends come in and out of style, over and over again. I remember when sun-dried tomatoes came to a screeching halt, only to return fairly recently, wandering back onto the food scene like nothing ever happened. It’s like an uncle that dropped off the map when you were a kid suddenly shows up at your apartment when you’re in your 30s and tells you he’s staying for dinner. Are you opposed? Not necessarily. Appalled? Well, yeah.
Anyway, much like my old wrinkly friend (the dried tomatoes, not my hypothetical uncle) strawberries and goat cheese are back en vogue. I see them everywhere — I even had a goat cheese bruschetta with a strawberry mint salsa this year. And I ate every single bite. That classic combination may have left the food magazines, but it never left my kitchen.
But can I make a confession? I think blueberries are the better pairing when it comes to goat cheese. And this salad is my Exhibit A.
Fresh blueberries, goat cheese crumbles and deeply toasted pine nuts are the perfect summer combination of sweet, sharp and savory. But the star of this salad is the dressing. More specifically, the main component of the dressing (which we’ll be making ourselves. Trust me. It doesn’t take long and it’s so delicious). All you have to do is simmer blueberries in balsamic vinegar until they burst and release their juices. Strain the berries out, and use the homemade blueberry balsamic as the base for the dressing. It brings out the fresh blueberry flavor and has the added bonus of turning the goat cheese a beautiful purple color. My advice: kill two birds with one stone and make the blueberry balsamic while you’re toasting the pine nuts. Both steps are crucial and worth the extra few minutes.
Blueberry Goat Cheese Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
5 oz spring mix, washed and spun dry
¾ cup goat cheese crumbles (chevre)
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed
⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan until golden brown and fragrant
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons blueberry balsamic vinegar (recipe below)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the best quality you have
In a large bowl, combine spring mix, blueberries, goat cheese and pine nuts. Toss gently and set aside while you make the dressing.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the blueberry balsamic vinegar, dijon, honey, salt and pepper. Continue whisking vigorously as you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Just before you’re ready to serve, gently toss the greens with the dressing until the ingredients are well combined and the goat cheese becomes slightly creamy.
Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar:
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, lower the heat and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain completely. Cool to room temperature before using. The blueberry balsamic will keep in the fridge for up to a month.