Winter Greens with Black Olive Vinaigrette & Warm Marinated Goat Cheese Croutons
- 2 logs fresh goat cheese
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices baguette or thin Italian loaf, cut on the diagonal
- 1 large clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise
- 6 lightly packed cups of bite-size chicory and escarole (or other winter greens of your choice)
- 1 large Belgian endive
- Sea salt or kosher salt
Marinate the goat cheese:
- Cut each goat cheese log into four equal rounds, using a thin, sharp knife dipped in hot water. Arrange the rounds in one layer in a nonreactive container. Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle with the thyme and grind on some pepper over the cheese. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator 30 minutes before tossing the salad.
Make the croutons:
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Rub the sliced bread all over with the cut sides of the garlic clove. Spread the bread slices out on a heavy baking sheet and drizzle with the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Put the sheet in the oven and toast the bread (without turning) until the edges are lightly golden and the bread is crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the toasts cool on a rack.
Assemble the salad:
- Wash the chicory and escarole and spin dry well. Trim off the brown root end from the endive and cut the endive crosswise into 1-inch-thick crescents. Use your fingers to separate the leaves. Discard the firm rounds of the core. Toss the endive with the chicory and escarole.
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the croutons on a rimmed baking sheet and lay one round of cheese on each crouton. Use a knife to spread the cheese so that it completely covers the bread and drizzle the olive oil marinade over the croutons. Put the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes to heat the goat cheese.
- While the croutons are warming, set aside about 2-1/2 Tbs. of the vinaigrette and toss the salad with the remaining vinaigrette. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the croutons from the oven and dab a bit of the reserved vinaigrette on top of each. Serve the salad on individual plates with one crouton alongside.
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