It’s summer, and the herbs in my garden are flourishing. The basil, the sage, and the oregano love the summer heat and sunshine. The mounds of thyme, especially, are fresh and green and covered with flowers. So when I ran across this recipe for Herb and Lemon Goat Cheese Spread (in a 1999 issue of Bon Appetit, all about Provence), which called for fresh thyme, I had to try it. I’ve come to love goat cheese, and it’s been popping up in more and more stores as cooks discover its tangy creaminess. Aldi sells it in three different varieties–I use the plain here. This spread has a creamy, herbal flavor, with the brightness of lemon glowing like sunshine over it all.
Herb and Lemon Goat Cheese Spread
5 to 6 ounces (about 1/2 cup) soft goat cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 garlic clove, minced
black pepper, to taste
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
crackers to accompany
Place the cheese in a small bowl. Mix thyme, lemon peel and garlic in a measuring cup; season with black pepper. Add half of the thyme mixture to the goat cheese, and mix well. Add the olive oil to remaining half of thyme mixture. Spoon the flavored cheese into a small, decorative bowl. Swirl with a knife. Spoon the oil-thyme mixture over top of the cheese, and serve with crackers or toasted slices of French baguette.
Cooking notes: Could you make it with dried thyme? You could try (I would use 1/2 teaspoon) but there is nothing like the flavor of fresh. Thyme is genuinely easy to grow–it just needs sun and average soil. The above thyme is a mat-forming oregano thyme and I recommend it for its flavor and attractiveness in the garden. It’s sometimes called “pizza thyme.” Lemon thyme is also good. The goat cheese I used here is soft, but firmer varieties are available. If you use a firmer variety, flatten the flavored cheese into a 2-1/2 inch disc. The goat cheese I used from Aldi comes in 4 ounce logs. I used one and a half logs. No, this doesn’t create a large amount of spread–it’s barely one cup. But it’s rich and creamy, and a little goes a long way. This would be delicious with a sparkling white wine!
If I just sit quietly on the lichen-covered bench on our back patio, birds appear and start doing interesting things. This robin perched above me, singing, and then flew over to the fence, and resumed his song. He has a beautiful voice, and I enjoyed listening to him. He seemed to take a bow at the end! Peace. Fran