I Tried This Popular Fig & Goat Cheese Salad and Every Bite Feels Like a Vacation
If there’s one thing I have grown to love, it’s a good salad. Tons of cherry tomatoes sitting atop fresh spring mix with cheese, cucumbers, croutons, and a delicious dressing? Yes, please! While I can admit that I didn’t grow to really love salad until I was in college, back then, I was very much a plain Jane when it came to toppings. Onions get sprinkled into the mix somehow? You can count me out. And God help everyone if there was no French dressing around!
Now though, I’m happy to say my tastebuds have grown and honestly, I look forward to trying new salads whenever I go out to eat or travel. Whether it’s the precursor to a great meal or the main course itself, you really can’t beat having a good salad.
While the meaning of the term “good salad” can change depending on who you ask, I found that one of the best salads I’ve had in a really long time came from a place I least expected: Atlantic City’s Ocean Casino Resort. Surprised? Don’t worry, I truly was, too! And if you’re wondering “Who goes to a casino to eat?” The answer is me and I have no shame in that!
Back in August, I took a nice trip to the resort for a weekend of beautiful views and relaxation (a.k.a. eating all the good food) and while there were a few dishes that stood out to me while embarking on my culinary tour of the property, there was one that really made my palate light up. Found on the menu at Ocean Casino’s Amada restaurant, the Brûléed Cana de Cabra was all I could think about for the week after I made it back to the South. And after a very persuasive email or two, I was able to nab the recipe from the restaurant’s chef with hopes you’ll have the same feeling once you taste it, too.
How to Make Brûléed Cana de Cabra
Though the salad itself is kind of simple to make, it was a bit difficult to track down all of the ingredients for both that and the vinaigrette. To make your mix, you’ll need 4 ounces of Cape gooseberries, 1.5 ounces of tardivo or radicchio, 4 ounces of fresh figs, .25 ounce of Marcona almonds, 3 ounces of spring mix (or micro leaf mix), and 6 ounces of Cana de Cabra. The vinaigrette requires 7.5 ounces of membrillo (quince paste), 7 ounces of fresh orange juice, an ounce of both roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil, 2.5 ounces of champagne vinegar, 2 ounces water, and .25 ounce salt.
While most salads call for you to build your veggies first and then toss or top with salad, this one is a bit different. Before you begin to build the salad, start on the dressing by placing all of the ingredients — except the extra virgin olive oil — into a blender, blending until smooth. While still blending, slowly pour in the olive oil and taste. Add more salt if needed.
Once your dressing has met the needs of your palate, combine tardivo (or radicchio) and micro leaf mix (I chose spring mix) in a bowl with 2 ounces of your dressing. On a small or medium size plate, add salad mix before placing your halved gooseberries and quartered and de-stemmed figs around it. Set aside.
Pre-heat a small nonstick sauté pan on high heat, turning down to medium-high once hot. Place your Cana de Cabra cheese (or goat cheese) — cut in two pieces — down into the pan. Let sit until caramelized and flip to do the same to the other side. Once both sides have reached the desired level of caramelization, remove from pan and place on top of your salad. Add your chopped Marcona almonds around the salad before enjoying!
My Honest Opinion of Brûléed Cana de Cabra
I loved this recipe while at the restaurant, but I loved it even more when making it at home! This is the type of salad that I would make for guests with the hopes of it being memorable, and it can be added on the menu for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Though it took a bit of effort to track down all of the ingredients, it was worth the trouble because the final result was as delicious as it was the first time I tasted it while visiting Atlantic City.
3 Tips for Making Brûléed Cana de Cabra
- It’s OK to leave something out. While trying to make this dish, I got so flustered because I couldn’t find Cape gooseberries. Though I was able to find them at one of the farmers markets in the area, it took me weeks to come across them. Don’t be like me. If you can’t find something, find a way to substitute instead of missing out on a delicious salad for weeks on end.
- Keep an eye on your cheese when caramelizing. The last thing you’ll want is charred goat cheese opposed to a caramelized topping because that changes the entire taste of your salad.
- If you have trouble caramelizing your cheese on the stove, there are other options. If like me you have trouble getting the cheese to caramelize, you can opt to broil it instead. Or if you happen to have kitchen torch, you can use that too. It probably won’t be as golden as you’d like, but it’ll give it a nice finish.