Anne’s Goat Cheese Gratin

I could listen to Lynne Rosetto Kaspar for hours. Her voice is just like velvet chocolate cake with mocha sauce. Yummy. Anyway, she has this fantastic recipe on her blog, “The Splendid Table,” courtesy of Patricia Wells’ neighbor Anne in Provence. It is fragrant, seductive, so satisfying.

Equipment: Six shallow 6-inch (15-cm) round gratin dishes or one 10 1/2-inch (27-cm) round baking dish

  • About 10 ounces (300 g) soft goat cheese or a mix of rindless soft goat and cow or sheep’s milk cheese, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried leaf oregano, crushed
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups (33 to 50 cl) homemade¬†Tomato Sauce, at room temperature (recipe follows)
  • About 24 best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), pitted

Directions

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Scatter the cheese on the bottom of the baking dish or dishes. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon on just enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with olives and the remaining herbs.

3. Place the baking dish or dishes under the broiler about 3 inches (8 cm) from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant, and the tomato sauce is sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
This is my idea of what a homemade tomato sauce should be: rich, elegant, smooth, and tasting of fresh herbs. I sometimes double the recipe, so there’s always some in my freezer for those days I don’t have time to cook.

Yields about three cups (75 cl) sauce.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Sea salt to taste
  • One 28-ounce (765-g) can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice, or one 28-ounce (765-g) can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • Bouquet garni: several sprigs of fresh parsley, bay leaves, and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with household twine

In a large unheated saucepan, combine the oil, onion, garlic, and salt, and stir to coat with oil. Cook over moderate heat just until the garlic turns golden but does not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. If using whole canned tomatoes, place a food mill over the skillet and puree the tomatoes directly into it. Crushed tomatoes can be added directly from the can. Add the bouquet garni, stir to blend, and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. For a thicker sauce, for pizzas and toppings, cook for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

The sauce may be used immediately, stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days, or frozen up to 2 months. If small quantities of sauce will be needed for pizzas or other toppings, freeze in ice cube trays.

Now why couldn’t you make a whole meal of this? Schlurp!! Just add a baguette or rustic sourdough loaf, a quick green salad, and you are SET!

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