Forget the dull roasted vegetable tartlets you’ve tried a million times before: these goat’s cheese recipes are ideal for meat-free lunches and dinners over the festive season.
Perhaps because of its creamy, salty richness, there’s something about goat’s cheese that feels innately suited to the decadence of December. Yet many people, particularly those who don’t eat meat, will associate it with distinctly lacklustre food memories. Rare is the vegetarian who hasn’t endured at least one flaccid goat’s cheese and roasted vegetable tartlet over a December pub lunch, while their carnivorous companions feast on beef wellington and lamb shoulder.
As a result, goat’s cheese dishes can be seen as something of a consolation prize. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Below, you’ll find three meat-free goat’s cheese recipes that would make spectacular meals over the holidays – and will excite vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
For an elegant lunch or light-but-special dinner, try Melissa Clark’s French-inspired asparagus and goat’s cheese tart. Thanks to the use of ready-made puff pastry, it’s much easier than its gorgeous striped appearance would suggest. Clark recommends serving warm, within an hour of baking if possible, to experience the joy of “crisp pastry that shatters into buttery bits when you bite down and still-runny cheese” – but it’s also delicious served at room temperature a few hours later.
Rukmini Iyer’s recipe, meanwhile, makes a showstopping main course, with goat’s cheese pressed into the flesh of harissa-seasoned roasted cauliflower steaks. Sprinkled with pine nuts and panko breadcrumbs and served with couscous, Greek yoghurt and crispy red onion, it’s a visually stunning centrepiece.
Finally, the goat’s cheese and purple sprouting broccoli quiche comes courtesy of acclaimed north London gastropub The Bull & Last. The broccoli is chargrilled for a deliciously light, smoky taste – and the addition of roasted hazelnuts lends a beautiful crunch to the creamy filling. Serve with salad, watercress, radishes and pickles for a stylish lunch in the hinterland between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Melissa Clark’s asparagus, goat’s cheese and tarragon tart
Serves 6 to 8
- 115g fresh goat’s cheese, room temperature
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
- 1 large garlic clove, finely grated or minced
- 1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for serving (you can also use chives, basil or mint)
- ½ tbsp finely grated lemon zest
- ½ tsp fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 225g crème fraiche, room temperature
- plain flour, for dusting the work surface
- 1 sheet or square all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen (about 9 to 14 ounces; brands vary)
- 225g thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- 45g parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Heat the oven to 220°C.
In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon or a fork to mash together the goat’s cheese, egg, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest, salt and nutmeg until smooth.
Switch to a whisk and beat in the crème fraiche until smooth.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to form a 33 x 27cm rectangle about 1cm thick.
Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking tray. With a sharp knife, lightly score a 1cm border around the edges of the puff pastry.
Spread the crème fraiche mixture evenly inside the scored border. Line up the asparagus spears on top, and brush them with olive oil.
Sprinkle some salt and the grated parmesan over the asparagus.
Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool on the baking tray for at least 15 minutes before serving (or for up to 4 hours).
Then sprinkle black pepper, red pepper flakes (if using), the shaved parmesan, tarragon leaves and a drizzle of oil on top.
You can assemble the tart 1 day in advance; but reserve the sprinkling of salt and grated parmesan until right before baking. Loosely cover the tart and store it in the refrigerator.
From Dinner In French: My Recipes By Way Of France by Melissa Clark (£25, Clarkson Potter), out now
Rukmini Iyer’s crisp cauliflower steaks with harissa and goat's cheese
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25–30 minutes
- 1 very large cauliflower
- 1 red onion, quartered
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 tsp harissa
- 125g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
- 30g pine nuts, roughly chopped
- 20g panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- cous cous
- Greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas 6.
Remove the greens from the cauliflower and pop them into the roasting tin along with the red onion. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt.
Slice the cauliflower from top to bottom into four thick steaks and lay these in the tin along with the greens and red onion. Rub each steak on both sides with ½ teaspoon of harissa.
Season with sea salt, then press the goat’s cheese on to each steak.
Mix the pine nuts, panko breadcrumbs and parsley with a pinch of sea salt, then scatter a quarter of this over each cauliflower steak, pressing down lightly.
Drizzle with olive oil, then transfer to the oven to roast for 25–30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the cauliflower is just cooked through.
Serve the steaks with cous cous and Greek yogurt, with the crispy leaves and onions alongside.
From The Green Roasting Tin: Vegan And Vegetarian One Dish Dinners by Rukmini Iyer (£17.99, Square Peg), out now
The Bull & Last’s chargrilled purple sprouting broccoli quiche with goat’s cheese and roast hazelnuts
For the savoury shortcrust pastry:
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- a pinch of salt
- 90g cold unsalted butter, diced
- 65ml fridge-cold water
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with a splash of milk and a pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 6 stems of purple sprouting broccoli
- 1 tsp rapeseed oil
- 50g blanched hazelnuts
- 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks
- 300ml double cream
- 80-100g soft goat’s cheese
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the simple vinaigrette:
- 75ml moscatel or chardonnay wine vinegar
- 150ml best-quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon
- Maldon sea salt
- a few radishes and pickles
- 25g parmesan, grated
To make the pastry, put the flour in a large mixing bowl with the pinch of salt then add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it feels and looks like sand.
Gradually add the cold water until the mixture comes together to form a dough (you may not need all the water). Roll the dough into a ball, press into a round disc, wrap it in clingfilm or a reusable plastic bag and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C while the pastry rests.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop to a thickness of 3mm and use it to line a 25cm non-stick, loose-bottomed tart tin, letting it overhang at the rim (to allow for shrinkage). Prick the base lightly with a fork and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and line with baking paper. Fill with baking beans (dried beans or ceramic) and blind bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes.
Carefully remove the paper and beans. Return the pastry to the oven for a further 5 minutes until the tart case is a light, even golden colour.
Run a knife around the rim of the pastry case to remove excess pastry and give it a neat edge.
Remove from the oven and brush the beaten egg yolk evenly all over the pastry. Repeat the brushing to give the pastry a couple of layers of yolk, then return to the oven for 15 seconds to seal the egg. Remove and leave the tart case to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C.
Now, make the filling. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the broccoli, cook for 2 minutes and drain.
Drizzle the oil over the broccoli and heat a griddle pan. Cook the broccoli until nicely charred.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes until a light brown colour, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Beat the egg and yolks together lightly in a bowl, then mix in the cream. Season with a pinch of salt.
Arrange the charred broccoli, toasted hazelnuts and small pieces of the cheese inside the cooked pastry case, then pour over the custard. Finish with a nice crack of pepper on top.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the custard has just set – there should still be a little movement in the centre.
To make the simple vinaigrette, put the vinegar in a bowl and whisk constantly while slowly and steadily adding the oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon.
Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool before taking the quiche out of the tart tin and serving it warm or cool, with a vinaigrette dressed salad, radishes and pickles, and sprinkled with grated parmesan.
From The Bull & Last: Over 70 Recipes From North London’s Iconic Pub And Coaching Inn by Ollie Pudney & Joe Swiers (£30, Etive Pubs), out now
Photography: David Loftus; © 2020 Laura Edwards; Joe Howard