Warm Manchego Cheese Salad

4 servings
  • 1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 (8-ounce) piece manchego (the medium aged variety - it should not be too hard), rind removed and cut into 4 equal rounds
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, basil, and marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 ounces mesclun, or other salad greens, rinsed and spun dry
  • 2 small oranges, segmented
  • 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
  • 4 ounces Serrano ham, chiffonade
  • Fresh baby parsley sprigs, garnish
  • Chives, garnish

In a food processor, pulse the bread crumbs, almonds, and Essence until the nuts are ground, being careful not to over-grind. Place in a shallow dish.

Dip the cheese slices in the egg white, then into the bread crumb mixture, turning to coat on all sides and pressing to adhere. Place on a plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the oil, whisking to make an emulsion.

Place the greens and orange segments in a large bowl and toss lightly with dressing to taste. Adjust seasoning to taste. Divide among 4 salad plates.

On a small, lightly greased baking sheet, bake the cheese rounds until golden brown and softened, about 5 minutes. Remove and transfer 1 round to each salad. Sprinkle the pine nuts and ham over the top of each salad, and garnish with the parsley sprigs and chives.

Serve immediately with warm croutons.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

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