Whether it’s a holiday meal, you’re planning a dinner party, or you’re simply cooking a weeknight dinner for your family, prepping ahead of time helps keep you stress-free. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, solves the problem of hectic cooking in her newest book Make It Ahead. Each delicious recipe has clear instructions for what can be done ahead of time (and how far in advance), thus eliminating the guesswork and last-minute stress. The book is also filled with hundreds of invaluable make-ahead tips and gorgeous mouthwatering photography. It’s the perfect cookbook for any time (or occasion) of the year, but especially during the holiday season.
This holiday season we’ll be making her Truffled Chicken Liver Mousse (page 32), her festive Cranberry Martinis (make them at least 2 days before so that the flavors infuse and deepen, page 27), and serving her French Green Bean Salad with Warm Goat Cheese (recipe and excerpt below, pages 72-73) at our Christmas dinner.
French Green Bean Salad with Warm Goat Cheese
From Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead
When I’m in Paris, I love to have a big salad with warm goat cheese for lunch. By wrapping the cheese in phyllo dough and baking it, I end up with a delicious package that’s crispy on the outside with creamy goat cheese inside. A cold salad with French string beans is the perfect counterpoint.
12 to 16 ounces Bûcheron goat cheese
8 (8½ × 14-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
Plain dry bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound French string beans, trimmed
½ cup good olive oil, at room temperature
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
8 ounces mesclun mix or salad greens
Notes: French string beans are also called haricots verts. I use Athens phyllo dough.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Score the goat cheese rind at ½- inch intervals and make 4 slices by pulling dental floss through the log. Place the stack of phyllo dough sheets on a cutting board and cover it with a slightly damp towel. Place one sheet of phyllo on the board, brush it with butter, and sprinkle it with ¾ teaspoon of bread crumbs. Place a second sheet of phyllo on top, brush it with butter, and sprinkle it with bread crumbs, continuing
until you have 4 sheets of phyllo stacked up. Cut the phyllo in half crosswise to make two (7 × 8½-inch) rectangles.
Place a slice of goat cheese in the middle of one stack of phyllo, fold a corner diagonally over the cheese, and pleat the rest of the
dough up and around the cheese, enclosing it completely. Place the package, folded side up, on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat the process, until you have 4 packages filled with goat cheese. Brush the packages all over with melted butter, cover, and refrigerate until ready
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the string beans. Simmer for exactly 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain immediately and immerse the beans in ice water to stop the cooking.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallots, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in the dill and set aside.
Bake the goat cheese packages for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Toss the string beans and mesclun with enough dressing to moisten. Divide the salad among 4 lunch plates, top each with a warm goat cheese package, and serve immediately.
MAKE IT AHEAD:
Assemble the goat cheese packages, cook the beans, and prepare the salad and vinaigrette; refrigerate separately for up to 2 days.
Before serving, bake the cheese packages, combine the salad and vinaigrette, and serve.
Editorial disclosure: Foodista bought this cookbook and received no compensation for this post.