Oil-packed herbed cheeses are lovely for summer salads. You’ve seen those jars and tubs in stores. But here’s a secret: you can make your own in five minutes for a lot less money. I bought a log of fresh goat cheese, sliced it into rounds, then packed the rounds in a jar with extra virgin olive oil and seasonings. Two weeks later, I warmed a couple of slices in the oven on a bed of garden vegetables. What a delicious summer lunch.
I used the Whole Foods-branded fresh chèvre log, but any fresh goat cheese will do as long as the slices fit your jar. I used lavender and thyme blossoms because I had them in my garden but use what you like: store-bought herbes de Provence, bay leaves, strips of orange zest, whole dried red chilies, a sprig of oregano or tarragon (I don’t think basil would contribute much), maybe pink or green peppercorns instead of black.
Extra-virgin olive oil will solidify in the fridge, but so what? Just bring the jar to room temperature and you will be able to lift out the slices easily. Warming the cheese in a moderate oven improves the texture and flavor dramatically. When you are going to friends’ homes again, marinated cheese will make a nice house gift.
Marinated Goat Cheese
10 ounces fresh, rindless goat cheese log
Lavender and thyme blossoms
Coarsely cracked black peppercorns
Strips of lemon zest
Extra virgin olive oil
With a thin-bladed knife or cheese wire, slice the goat cheese into disks of equal thickness. I got 10 slices from a 10-ounce log. Stack them in a sterilized glass jar, sprinkle the seasonings between the layers. Top with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks or up to 2 months.
When ready to use, bring the jar to room temperature so the oil liquefies. Invert the jar onto a plate or remove the slices carefully with a clean fork. If you are not using all of the cheese, avoid putting your fingers in the jar so you don’t contaminate the remaining cheeses.
Makes 10 one-ounce servings
Baked Goat Cheese with Tomatoes, Onions, and Peppers
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring 2 slices of marinated goat cheese to room temperature.
In an ovenproof baking dish, combine sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, strips of roasted red and green peppers, pitted and sliced green or black olives, thinly slivered garlic, extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste. The proportions do not really matter. Cook on top of the stove, over moderate heat, until the vegetables soften and generate juice, about 5 minutes. You can also do this step in the oven.
Put the goat cheese slices on top of the vegetables and bake until they quiver like custard when you touch them, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle some of the marinade from the jar over the cheese and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Welcome to my world: a fragrant, fascinating universe devoted to great cheese. In this and future Planet Cheese posts, you’ll find profiles of the world’s best cheeses plus insights into everything cheese: shops, recipes, interviews, pairing discoveries, classes, videos, travel. If you haven’t already done so, sign up here - it’s complimentary - and join me in learning something new about cheese every week.
The definitive locavore cookbook, to help you make the most of the fresh ingredients from your farmers’ market and celebrate the foods grown in your community. With 150 recipes, more than 200 images and profiles of 10 pioneering small farms around the country.