This Crispy Goat’s Cheese with Apple and Hazelnut Salad is a delicious starter which uses one of Ireland’s most beautiful indigenous fruit – the brilliant and versatile apple. And remember support local and buy Irish apples! Hazelnuts go really well with both the goats cheese and the apple for what I think is a very different starter but yet one which is easy to prepare and ultimately very very tasty.
Crispy Goat’s Cheese with Apple and Hazelnut Salad
25g (1oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp very finely chopped skinned, toasted hazelnuts
25g (1oz) plain flour
150g (5oz) log of Corleggy goat’s cheese, cut into 4 slices
sunflower oil, for deep-frying
2 crisp Irish eating apples
juice of 1 lemon
50g (2oz) rocket leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50g (20z) skinned, toasted
hazelnuts, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground
If you prefer to bake the goat’s cheese, simply cook it in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4) for another 5–10 minutes, until warmed through and soft. Look out for Irish apples in the supermarket, particularly when they should be in season, and if they’re not there, ask the manager why! Apples are one of our few indigenous fruits and there is no excuse for the shops not supporting Irish farmers. To prepare the crispy goat’s cheese, mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley, sesame seeds and chopped hazelnuts in a shallow dish and season to taste. In a separate dish, beat the egg and season lightly.
Season the flour and place in another shallow dish. Lightly coat the goat’s cheese in the seasoned flour, then dip each one into the beaten egg, gently shaking off any excess. Place in the breadcrumb mixture so that it is completely coated. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F/gas mark 4). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat the oil in a deep-sided pan or deep-fat fryer to 180 C (350F) and cook the breaded goat’s cheese for 1–2 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully remove from the oil and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil. Arrange on the lined baking sheet and place in the oven for another 3–4 minutes, until heated through but still holding their shape.
Meanwhile, finish making the apple and hazelnut salad. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, cut the apples into wafer-thin slices and toss in the lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Cover each plate with a layer of slightly overlapping apple slices and add a small mound of the rocket, then drizzle with olive oil. Put a goat’s cheese fritter into the centre of each plate and add a grinding of black pepper. Scatter over the hazelnuts to serve.