By Stephanie Stiavetti

Despite the fact that I need fresh vegetables more than ever, I often forget about salad in the winter. Who can blame me? I’m too busy dreaming of thick stews and hearty, creamy casseroles! But greenery must be had, and when I created this fresh winter salad, I looked to fennel bulb and mint leaves to bring about a refreshing flavor combination that zaps me back to summertime. A splash of lemon adds a little sunshine, while edamame brings a little more substance to the dish. I usually find edamame in the freezer section of my local supermarket.

Drunken Goat with Edamame, Fennel, and Rotini

From Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese

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Serves 4

10 ounces rotini

10 ounces Drunken Goat, rind intact, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup fresh-shelled edamame beans

¼ pound fennel bulb, sliced paper thin (about 1½ cups sliced)

4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonade

3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Zest of 1 medium lemon

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

I was wary the first time my local cheesemonger coaxed me into trying Drunken Goat. In his description, this semi-firm goat variety sounded like the frat boy of fine cheese: boozy, hotheaded, and likely to disappoint. How wrong I was! Grassy and fresh, with the aroma of wet clover and a hint of zing from the Spanish red wine it is bathed in, Drunken Goat is not fratty at all. Rather, it’s like the sleek, sexy track star I fell in love with in college.

This is a cheese that shouldn’t be burdened with a heavy sauce or lots of cream—a light dressing of lemon and oil is all it needs, with edamame, mint, and fennel complementing the greener flavors of the cheese. If you’re looking to impress at your next outdoor potluck or picnic, this beautiful dish will do it.

1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and wash with cold water to cool. Drain the excess water.

2. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste the salad. If you feel it needs more lemon, herbs, salt, or pepper, then adjust and taste again. When it’s balanced to your satisfaction, serve and be amazed at how easy that was.

Alternative cheeses:

Lamb Chopper, Midnight Moon

Wine pairings:

Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling, Grüner Veltliner

Additional pairings for the cheese:

edamame, honey, dates, fig jam

 

Written by Stephanie Stiavetti

Stephanie Stiavetti is a freelance food writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes for KQEDNPR, the Huffington Post, and also dabbles in independent radio and video production. She spends a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen, recording her adventures at TheCulinaryLife.com.

Her first cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese with coauthor Garrett McCord, is due out in 2013 on Little, Brown, Co.

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