Charred Goat Cheese Salad
Fennel, Cantaloupe, Cucumber
Smoky Chile Walnuts, Charred Parsley Vinaigrette
Mustard Flowers, Watercress, Mint, Cilantro
I adopted a goat. I named her Miss Chèvre Chaud. She’s a gentle soul who devours mustard plant with wild abandon and is deliriously happy to munch on wild fennel.
For the past several years, hundreds of goats like her have been employed to graze on non-native weeds as part of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy restoration project.
The Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy’s Adopt-A-Goat program supports their effort to turn the weedy hillsides into native coastal sage scrub and grassland habitats – supporting threatened and endangered plants and wildlife, such as the California gnatcatcher and cactus wren.
Goats are an ecologically sound, cost-effective, and efficient means of habitat restoration. As a bonus, their droppings provide a natural top-soil fertilizer. The goats make very little noise, leave no trash, and are a charming addition to the community for the time they spend with us.
Invasive Plants: Mustard and Fennel
Invasive non-native plants while pretty to look at, and pretty tasty to eat…cause damage to the ecosystem by crowding out and reducing native plant species ultimately reducing shelter and food for native animal species.
These non-native plants tend to have shallow root systems which do little to help with soil stabilization on the hilly slopes. And both mustard and fennel grow quite tall, unfortunately blocking out necessary sunlight for native species.
Native of Europe, black mustard Brassica nigra, is an annual plant that covers the Peninsula after the winter rains. It sprouts easy and densely, so as to crowd out the native plants that are home to native birds. It is short-lived, so when the plant dies the dried stalks remain standing and present a significant fire hazard.
Native of Southern Europe, fennel Foeniculum vulgare is another invasive species that grows in dense thickets and crowds out native species. When the fennel plants die in late summer, the dried stems remain standing and can be fuel for wildfires.
Savory Fruit Salad with Goat Cheese
This delicious savory fruit salad was created to showcase Miss Chèvre Chaud’s affection for reducing our local mustard and fennel (aka goat-candy) population while promoting fresh cheese made from goat’s milk.
To highlight the good work Miss CC and her team do to clear the hillsides and reduce wildfire danger…the salad has three charred elements; charred parsley vinaigrette, charred/caramelized goat cheese, and smoky walnuts. Simultaneously the mustard flowers do indeed taste like yellow mustard and add a punchy savory note to the salad.
Miss Chèvre Chaud’s Friends and Family
Savory Fruit Salad with Goat Cheese Recipe
- persian cucumber, thinly sliced
- cantaloupe, cut into triangles
- fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- smoky chile walnuts
- fresh goat cheese and fine sugar for dusting
- charred parsley vinaigrette
- mustard flowers, rinsed in cool water
Smoky Chile Walnuts
- 2 t. olive oil
- red chile flakes
- smoked paprika
- handful of walnut halves
Heat olive oil in a small pan, add a shake of both red chile flakes and smoked paprika. Add walnuts and cook until the walnuts are toasty and coated with the red chile oil.
Charred Parsley Vinaigrette
- 1 bunch parsley, charred
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 T shallot, minced
- 1/4 c. rice vinegar
- 3/4 c. olive oil
- salt and pepper
Blend parsley, garlic, shallot and vinegar in the small bowl of a food processor. Stream in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange cucumber, fennel, cantaloupe, watercress, and walnuts on a platter. Ladle charred parsley vinaigrette over the salad. Place bite-sized crumbles of goat among the salad. Lightly dust cheese with sugar. Use a kitchen torch to char the cheese. Garnish with mustard flowers, cilantro and mint leaves.
Visit the PVPLC website to Adopt-A-Goat, see goats in action next time they come to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, or make a donation to support the PVPLC mission to “preserve land and restore habitat for the education and enjoyment of all.”
Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy pvplc.org
Native Wildflowers of the Palos Verdes Peninsula by Dalkey & Williams