This vegan goat cheese salad is a hearty vegetarian main dish featuring a mix of colourful vegetables, warm and creamy vegan goat cheese and a sweet and tangy berry dressing.
When I lived in France I ate a lot of goat cheese salads. Back then I was still vegetarian and the goat cheese salad was not only on every restaurant menu in the city I lived in, it was also the only vegetarian option on the menu.
I googled around for a bit and didn’t find any vegan recipes for goat cheese salad, neither in French nor in English. So why not be the first?
You are probably scratching your head wondering wtf is vegan goat cheese. It’s probably not going to blow your mind when I tell you that it’s a basic blended cashew cheese seasoned with miso paste and lemon juice.
Perhaps you’ve already tried a vegan cheese ball recipe (my favourite is seasoned with smoked paprika and jalapeno), so this vegan goat cheese is basically the same idea except rolled into a log.
In France the warm goat cheese salad is usually comprised of goat cheese rounds broiled over slices of toasted bread and served on top of the salad. I had two problems with that: first, my oven is broken; and second, vegan cashew cheese doesn’t melt in the same way as goat cheese.
So I decided to bread the cheese slices in panko and fry them until warm and crispy. Served on top of a fresh salad, the crispy fried goat-style cheese adds creaminess and tanginess, and makes for a filling salad that’s great as a main dish or as a starter to something like this wonderful vegan galette or this vegan quiche lorraine.
The trick to pan frying vegan cashew cheese without ending up with a goopy mess is to freeze it first. Also, you’ll have to get the temperature of the oil just right so that the panko browns nicely before the cheese starts to melt apart.
Like most people I don’t have a thermometer for oil so I recommend frying one slice as a test first and adjusting the heat if and as necessary. I adjusted my heat between medium and medium-high on my stove but each stove is different.
As for the rest of the salad, it’s basically up to you. A good mix of salad greens in contrasting colours is nice, ribbons of zucchini, both chopped and thinly sliced beet, green beans, julienned carrots and thinly sliced radishes went into mine. Feel free to use your favourite veggies and add nuts if you like.
Since I like a bit of sweet to contrast the tanginess of the vegan goat cheese, I made a simple berry dressing with last summer’s homemade blackberry jam, red wine vinegar and oil. If you don’t have blackberry, any sort of fruit jam would be good; raspberry, fig, strawberry, etc.
This vegan goat cheese salad recipe is really easy to make ahead. The goat cheese just takes a few minutes to blend up then put in the freezer. This can be done the night before. You can also prep all the veggies and make the dressing ahead of time.
Once you’re ready to serve simply take the cheese from the freezer, bread and fry it and toss together all the veggies. Serve your salad onto plates and top with 3 or 4 rounds of fried goat cheese each. Drizzle over the dressing and enjoy!
For the vegan goat cheese
- 1 cup (150 grams) raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 15 minutes
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 clove of garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ¼ cup (60 ml) aquafaba
- ¼ cup (12.5 grams) panko
- Oil for frying
For the salad dressing
- 3 tablespoons jam of choice (raspberry, blackberry, fig, etc.)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
For the salad
- 1 beet
- 30 green beans, topped and tailed
- 200 grams (7 oz) mixed salad greens
- 1 zucchini, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- Blend the cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, miso, garlic and salt in a small food processor until smooth. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and pile the cashew mixture on top. Wrap the plastic around the cheese mixture and form it into a log about 12 cm (4.7 inches) in length. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly formed. Put the log in the freezer and after about an hour it will firm up enough to reshape it into a better log.
- Return to the freezer for another hour or until it’s firm enough that you can slice it into twelve 1 cm rounds. If you leave it in the freezer overnight and it’s solid, let it thaw for a few minutes until you can get the knife through. Put the slices back in the freezer and let them freeze solid.
- Meanwhile you can prepare the salad and dressing. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl or mason jar and mix. You can add more or less jam and vinegar to balance the sweet and sour to your taste.
- Prepare the beet to your liking. I cut mine in half and used a mandolin to slice about a quarter of it into very thin slices for garnishing the salad. I chopped up the rest and steamed it. I also steamed the green beans.
- Toss the salad greens with the carrot, chopped beet and green beans. Serve onto large plates and garnish with zucchini ribbons, thinly sliced beet and radish.
- Heat half a centimetre of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Put the flour, aquafaba and panko into separate bowls. Take your sliced goat cheese from the freezer and dredge it first into the flour, then the aquafaba and finally the panko.
- Fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown, flipping halfway. I recommend doing one as a test to see if the temperature of the oil is okay. If they’re in there too long they can start to fall apart. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Serve the vegan goat cheese onto the salads while it’s still warm and crispy. Drizzle over the dressing.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 970 Total Fat: 72g Saturated Fat: 16g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 49g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 431mg Carbohydrates: 69g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 23g Protein: 25g
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