Valençay (soft ripened goat cheese) with Cherries and Plums

Serves 4

Savory salad for those who love fruit...and cheese

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This recipe comes from Laura Werlin’s book Cheese Essentials, with additional comments from Artisanal Cheese of NYC, and me!

We who live in NW Michigan love our cherries. It turns out that cherries and goat cheese go well together.  Rather than creating something sweet with the cherries, why not give them a savory slant instead? The following recipe gives you a salad course with sweet, tangy, and earthy flavors all in one bite. Don’t worry if you can’t find Valençay; other goat cheeses work just as well.

Ingredients

½ pound fresh Bing cherries, pitted and cut in quarters (or use a combination of cherries that are in season in your area)
1 pound purple plums, pitted and cut into ¼-inch slices (or use a variety of plums such as Elephant Heart, Green Gage, or whatever is in season)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1 piece Valençay cheese, about 7 ounces (or use Humboldt Fog, aged Birchbark Farm Baby Cakes, or other soft-ripened or fresh goat cheese)

Directions

In a medium-size bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the cheese. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the mixture for up to 6 hours, but do not add the basil until you’re ready to serve.

To cut the cheese: If using Valençay, cut the cheese horizontally two-thirds of the way down. Cut both pieces into quarters by criss-crossing to make a total of 8 triangular pieces. If using a different cheese, cut into 8 equal pieces.

To serve, distribute the cherry mixture on 8 small plates. Lay a piece of cheese next to the mixture and serve.

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