This Goat Cheese Salad is a scrumptious blend of sweet and tangy flavors. Pistachio-crusted creamy goat cheese complements crisp greens, juicy segments of blood orange and dried cranberries. It all comes together in a zesty blood orange dressing, and it works well for both a first or main course.
Goat cheese salads are always popular, and this one is particularly special.
A spiced, pistachio-crusted goat cheese log has the leading role, and its beautiful blood orange co-star is just as delicious -- both in the vinaigrette and sliced into the salad.
It's a stunning first course, side salad, and it can totally hold its own as a main course salad.
- goat cheese - You 'll need a goat cheese log for this recipe. You should be able to find this in most grocery stores.
- pistachios - Ideally, shelled, salted and roasted.
- ancho chili powder - This adds a tasty smoky flavor to the goat cheese. Regular chili powder will work too.
- butter lettuce - Butter lettuce is often sold with its roots still attached. This is the best way to purchase it because it will last longer.
- red onion - Try to choose onions that are firm, heavy for their size and without bruises.
- blood oranges - Keep in mind that the outside color of a blood orange does not indicate what its interior color will be. It's always a surprise and can vary from orange and pink to red and dark burgundy, or a blend of these.
- blood orange vinaigrette - Get the easy and incredibly delicious recipe here.
- dried cranberries
- black pepper - Preferably freshly ground.
(See recipe card below for quantities.)
Substitutions and Variations
- Ancho chili powder. Ancho chili powder is typically not spicy, so you can substitute it with regular chili powder, like one you'd add to chili. And if you want to add heat to this salad, use cayenne pepper instead.
- Butter lettuce. While Butter lettuce is somewhat crisp, it's softer than other lettuces. For more of a crunch, substitute it with Romaine.
- Red onions. Though they have a more mild flavor, shallots can be used instead of red onions.
- Blood oranges. If blood oranges are not in season, Navel oranges are my second choice. They're sweet and naturally seedless.
- The goat cheese log can also be rolled in other nuts. My next choices are toasted pine nuts or pecans.
- Dried fruit would be a delicious coating for the goat cheese too. And to really mix things up, blend the dried cranberries with the pistachios for the "crust."
- If you're serving this salad to guests whose diets you're not sure of, serve the pistachio-crusted goat cheese slices on a separate plate. The salad is then vegan and still quite delicious.
- Don't skip freezing the goat cheese once it's coated with the pistachios. It will be much easier to slice nicely this way. (If you're not going to slice it until the next day, you can keep it in the refrigerator.)
- As with most salads, this goat cheese salad should not be dressed until you're ready to serve.
- To avoid bruising and keep the lettuce looking as fresh as possible, it's best to tear, and not cut it into pieces.
How to Make It
- Place the goat cheese log on parchment paper and sprinkle it evenly with the chili powder.
- Pour the chopped pistachios onto the parchment paper to one side of the goat cheese and spread them into one layer, the width of the log.
- Use the parchment paper to help you roll the log onto the pistachios, gently pressing down on it as you go.
- Once you’ve coated the whole log, wrap the parchment paper around it with a large piece of plastic wrap. Twist the ends so it’s tight and then place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Unwrap and cut the log into about 12 to 16 evenly-sized slices. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the salad. (I usually make the rest of the salad while it’s in the freezer.)
- Cut the peel off the blood oranges by first cutting a bit off each end, and then moving the knife down the sides of the fruit between the pith and the flesh of the citrus. Then you can either cut out the segments, like this, or slice it horizontally and then into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss the lettuce, oranges, dried cranberries and onions together in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss again. (I use about ¼ cup).
- Then add the goat cheese slices to the top and very gently mix. Alternately, divide the salad evenly among four serving plates and top each one with 3 to 4 slices of the cheese. (I drizzle a bit more dressing over the cheese slices.)
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
- I like to serve this as a side or first course, and it definitely works as a vegetarian main course, too.
- To make this salad heartier, shrimp or chicken would be a delicious addition. To keep it vegetarian, a handful of edamame would also be great.
- The goat cheese salad is a fantastic BBQ dish, and it's excellent alongside grilled chicken, steak and shrimp.
Other Delectable Recipes with Blood Oranges
- Blood Orange Turmeric Cake
- Citrus Carpaccio with Jalapeño
- Ceviche Blood Orange Tacos
- Blood Orange Champagne Crème Brûlée
- Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart
Making it Ahead
- The pistachio-crusted goat cheese can be made a day ahead of time. If you make it a day ahead, skip the 30 minutes of freezing time, and keep it wrapped with the parchment and plastic wrap in the refrigerator until you're ready to slice it. (See instruction no. 3 in the recipe card below.)
- The vinaigrette can be made up to a couple of weeks ahead. When you're ready to use it, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes ahead of time so that it has time to soften if it has solidified from the oil.
I hope you love this beautiful salad as much as I do!
Pistachio Goat Cheese Salad Recipe
For the pistachio-crusted goat cheese
- Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a clean dry surface. Then place the goat cheese log along one side of it. and sprinkle it as evenly as possible, with the chili powder.
- Pour the chopped pistachios onto the parchment paper to one side of the goat cheese log and spread them into one layer, the same width of the log. Use the parchment paper to help you roll the log onto the pistachios, gently pressing down on it as you go.
- Wrap the parchment paper around the cheese log and then wrap it in a large piece of plastic wrap. Twist the ends so it’s tight and then place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Unwrap and cut the log into 12 to 16 evenly-sized slices, and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the salad. (I usually make the rest of the salad while it’s in the freezer.)
- Slice the peel off the blood oranges and then you can either cut out the segments or slice it horizontally and then into bite-sized pieces. (Here's a guide to cutting citrus.)
- In a large serving bowl, toss the lettuce, blood orange pieces, dried cranberries and sliced onions together. Add the vinaigrette and toss again. (I use about ¼ cup). Then add the goat cheese slices to the top and very gently mix -- or, alternately, evenly divide the salad among four serving plates and top each one with 3 to 4 slices of the cheese. (I usually drizzle a bit more dressing over the cheese slices.)