Goat cheese is one of those foods that takes me back to living in San Francisco in the late 90s (wow…that makes me sound old!). Cheese makers like Laura Chenel were gaining cult status, and chèvre was front and center thanks to restaurants like Chez Panisse. It would garnish just about everything: soups, simple green salads and pizzas. It never really went out of style, and we always seem to have some fresh goat cheese in our cheese drawer at home. Every once in a while it will come in handy for an appetizer emergency — like an impromptu Friday night happy hour with neighbors, or an afternoon playdate that turns into an early evening happy hour. When that happens, there’s a simple 5-minute trick that will make your goat cheese come to life.
It’s as simple as warming up some olive oil in a pan. Use good quality, extra virgin olive oil to make a warm herb-and-garlic infused oil to drizzle on top. Any herbs you have on hand are fine to use — basil, rosemary, thyme or dill. Stick to just one variety at a time to get a good, clean flavor. We have big pots of rosemary growing in our yard, so I typically grab handfuls of those. The warm oil softens and melts the cheese slightly and it’s a fast way to infuse a layer of flavor. Topped with a sprinkling of crunchy, coarse sea salt, it’s about the easiest appetizer there is.
Chèvre with Herb and Garlic Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
- 4 ounces plain chèvre
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and add the garlic. Stir until fragrant, being careful not to brown, about 30 seconds.
- Add the herbs and warm them in the olive oil until fragrant, about two minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't burn. Set the oil aside to cool.
- Place the chèvre on a small plate or platter. Drizzle the warm olive oil over the chèvre and place the herbs on the side as a garnish. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt.