In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: Alice Waters used to say that she would rather make salads than almost anything else, which explains how she is responsible for one of the most iconic dishes of the decade, her baked goat cheese salad. In its essence, it’s a harmonious blend of lettuces combined with softly baked thyme-and-breadcrumb-coated goat cheese, served alongside crunchy garlic croutons. As with so much of Alice Waters’ seasonal, ingredient-driven cooking, this simple dish is all about the quality of the raw materials. Waters once said, “Only the best is good enough.” So use the very best you can find.
1 (8-ounce) goat cheese log
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for greasing
Divide goat cheese into 4 or 8 equal portions and shape into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place goat cheese rounds in a shallow glass dish; drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, and turn to coat completely. Top with thyme sprigs. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir together breadcrumbs and dried thyme in a small bowl. Remove cheese rounds from oil, and coat thoroughly with breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and bubbly, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, place vinegar in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper; whisk in remaining 1/2 cup oil.
Toss lettuce leaves with vinaigrette to lightly coat. Mound dressed lettuce on each of 4 plates. Top each with warm goat cheese rounds. Serve immediately with croutons.
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