Spring officially starts tomorrow and, in a move that some might call an affront to the so-called Season of Love, I’m ringing it in with a mouthful of garlic breath. I’m as excited as the next person for asparagus, artichokes, and morels to arrive. (You know how I feel about morels.) But I’m content to start small, small and fragrant, with a bouquet of fresh spring herbs.
It’s early still for fresh herbs in these parts, I know, though I’m guessing that the first of the season’s chives are already pushing their way up. I’ve chastised Eli more than once for giving in to the temptation of strawberries before they’re due, but when it comes to herbs, I’m the guilty one. I couldn’t wait. Not with this sun and these temperatures in the mid-60s and crocuses busting out all over. Soon enough, I’ll be snipping fresh herbs from my own window box. For now, I’m grateful for my favorite market and this herbed goat cheese recipe for a whiff of what’s to come. And speaking of whiffs, when I said garlic breath, I meant it. This recipe boasts two cloves of raw garlic (three, if they’re puny), finely chopped and folded into a mound of goat cheese and yogurt. If you’ve never tasted fiery garlic against a tangy goat cheese, you’re in for a treat. Heck, even if you have tasted it, you’re in for a treat. Not only does this flavor combination never get old but, I swear, it tastes new every time. Topped with a confetti of herbs and a pour of olive oil, this cheese spread tastes like spring. Even when spring has not quite sprung.
Happy weekend, friends, and happy spring!
Herbed Goat Cheese Spread
From Amy’s kitchen (so you know it has to be good)
Before you get started, a word of caution about the mixing and mashing: In my experience with this recipe, it is best when stirred as little as possible. If you mix too thoroughly, the spread takes on a smoother, creamier consistency. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I personally enjoy a sturdier end result, one that spreads more like cream cheese than dip.
12 oz. soft goat cheese
8 oz. (1 cup) goat milk yogurt (I use the Redwood Hill Farm brand, available at Whole Foods. If you can’t find goat milk yogurt in your area, or prefer not to shell out for it, you can use plain yogurt instead. )
2 Tbs. (or a little more, if you’re feeling herby) of chopped fresh herbs. You can use any combination of tarragon, thyme, chives, and parsley.
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
In a medium-sized bowl, mash the goat cheese with a fork, just enough to break it up a little. Add the yogurt, and give the mixture a few gentle stirs. Set aside about 1 teaspoon of the mixed herbs for garnish (no need to measure; I just eye it), and add the rest of the herbs, together with the garlic, salt, and pepper, to the yogurt and cheese. Stir until just incorporated. I like to use a rubber spatula for this stage, again, for the sake of maintaining the consistency. Right before serving, combine the olive oil and reserved herbs and drizzle over the spread.
The spread can be made one or two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to serve. If you decide to go this route, it’s best to prepare the spread with just the cheese, yogurt, garlic, and salt and pepper. Add the herbs on the day you plan to serve it.
Makes about 2 cups.