Tastes like spring

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.


Adrienne said...

Oooh, this looks wonderful! I love goat cheese and herbs together. This would be delicious on cucumber slices.

Shannalee said...

Reading this literally just made my mouth water.

Jess said...

Cucumber slices - that's a great idea, Adrienne! Thanks for that.

I know what you mean, Shannalee. Just the thought of goat cheese and garlic gets me salivating.

Blair said...

As soon as i hear the words "goat cheese" you have sold me. I am not sure if you know the blog kissmyspatula.com but its amazing and she has a great recipe for making homemade goat cheese. I did it and it was phenomanal, and people are very impressed when you say you made it yourself! Check it it!
P.S-I am new to your blog by the way...it's lovely!

Jess said...

Hello, Blair, and welcome! It's a pleasure to meet you. Yes, Kiss My Spatula is a beautiful site. The photographs take my breath away. I'll have to check out the goat cheese recipe and give it a try. Thanks for pointing me to it.

Char said...

oh i use goat cheese for a favorite spread of mine: goat cheese, roasted red and/or yellow bell peppers, pesto and golden raisins. sheer heaven.

this sounds delish too

kathryn said...

I'm 100% with you. Asparagus, artichokes, etc are all very exciting, but it's the garlic that most excites me when it comes back into season.

Living in Australia, we're at the tail end of our garlic season. I was just chatting with the fruit and veg guy this morning about buying some in bulk and preserving in olive oil, for use over winter. So that's my next week project.

Susannah said...

Hi Jess, I've been a reader for several months now but this is my first comment. I thoroughly enjoy your writing, and it is the reason I come here, although I've also made several of your soup recipes and they are now among my favorites. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your words!

Jess said...

Kathryn - I know what you mean. We just signed up for this year's CSA, and I cannot wait for the garlic scapes! Preserving garlic in olive oil? I would love to learn how to do that.

Thank you Susannah, for your very kind note. You just made my morning. It makes me happier than you can imagine to hear that you enjoy what you find here, whether it's stories or soups! I'm so glad that you decided to join the conversation.

Jess said...

Whoops, Char, I missed you. Sorry! I don't think I've ever met a goat cheese spread that I didn't like. That tang always brightens things up.

El said...

This looks wonderful. Happy spring!

Jess said...

Thanks, El. Happy spring to you, too. (Though today it was rather grey in our fair city, eh?)

Tracy said...

Oh, yes. GARLIC! We have nice little tufts of chives and a nice flurry of thyme stretching towards the sky in our little garden. Herbed Goat Cheese Spread just sounds like Spring. I think I would like some slathered on a nice hunk of wheat bread.

Jess said...

Thanks for the peek into your little garden, Tracy. Now that sounds like spring.