Recipe for Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Lavender-Vanilla Vinaigrette

By Suzanne Havala

The only way to describe this vegetarian salad is “dreamy.” If you’ve never tasted lavender-infused dressing, the best way to describe it is that it tastes like it smells. This recipe is adapted from one served at the Pewter Rose restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the salad has its own fan club. The recipe is not difficult to prepare, and it’s worth the effort.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/eskymaks]

Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/eskymaks

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Dressing:

5 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 vanilla bean, split

3/4 teaspoon untreated dried lavender

2 tablespoons clover honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

Salad:

6 ounces goat cheese or chèvre

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper for dipping

1/4 pound arugula, heavy stems removed

4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

  1. To make the dressing, warm the vinegar and vanilla bean in a small saucepan. Allow the vanilla bean to steep for 10 minutes.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and then remove the vanilla bean. Let the vinegar cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Place the cooled vinegar in a blender or food processor and add the lavender, honey, salt, and black pepper. Blend, gradually adding the olive oil.

  4. Strain the dressing through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.

  5. For the salad, divide the goat cheese or chevre into 18 portions. Roll into balls and dip one side of each ball into the pepper.

  6. Arrange the arugula on 6 plates and put 3 balls of cheese on each plate. Drizzle the dressing and scatter the pumpkin seeds over the salad. Serve immediately.

The original recipe calls for double the amount of salt and goat cheese, as well as 3/4 cup olive oil. It also calls for a garnish of deep-fried sweet potato strips. This adaptation radically reduces the sodium, fat, and saturated fat content of the dish without unduly sacrificing flavor. Vegans can omit the goat cheese altogether and enjoy the flavorful dressing on this unique and wonderful salad.

You should be able to find vanilla bean and lavender flowers at a natural foods store, gourmet food store, or other specialty foods store. If you have trouble, check online.

Per serving: Calories 290 (From Fat 216); Fat 24g (Saturated 8g); Cholesterol 22mg; Sodium 348mg; Carbohydrate 9g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 10g.