This recipe is from my latest book, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, you can order your copy here.
The Nice area tends to produce goat’s cheese rather than cheese made from cow’s milk, as the landscape is too rugged and rough for cows to graze. Eating goat’s cheese from this region really captures the flavours of the terroir. Goats graze on whatever grows, from wild herbs like oregano and thyme to berries, and these flavours subtly influence the end product. These make a delectable summer starter or an apertif with a glass of rosé, showcasing the flavours of Provence.
Baked goat’s cheese cigars with melon, radish, and cucumber slaw
Serves – 4 as a starter
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – 15-20 minutes
For the cigars
1 to 2 rectangular filo sheets (depending on the size)
60g melted butter, or 4 tbsp
leaves from 8 sprigs of thyme
125g (4 1/2 oz) soft goat’s cheese
4 tsp honey (lavender, if possible)
For the slaw
1 small cucumber or 1/2 regular cucumber
1/2 unripe galia melon, seeded
6 radishes, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
For the dressing
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To make the cigars: Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan)/350°F. Line a baking sheet with baking paper/parchment.
Unroll a sheet of filo horizontally on your work surface. Cut the filo sheet in half lengthwise and in half diagonally/crosswise to make four rectangles measuring around 15cm x 20cm (6 inches x 8 inches). Lay them all out on the work surface, then brush the rectangles generously with the butter, reserving about 1 tbsp to brush the tops.
Sprinkle some thyme leaves along the length of each pastry rectangle and fold it in about 2cm (3/4 inch) in to encase them. Crumble the goat’s cheese in a line along the opposite short side of the pastry. Drizzle the honey along the goat’s cheese on each pastry. Starting at the goat’s cheese end, roll the pastry over the cheese and all the way to the thyme, pressing gently to seal. Repeat the process to make four cigars. Place on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the remaining butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
To make the slaw: Using a mandoline or or speed peeler, julienne the cucumber and the melon flesh. Place them in a bowl and add the radishes.
To make the dressing: combine the ingredients in a jam jar and shake to mix well.
Once the cigars are baked, toss the slaw with the dressing and place in the centre of each plate. Serve with the cigars on top.
Filo sheets dry out really quickly. Be sure to store them in cling film. Be gentle when brushing the sheets as they can tear easily. You can flavour the goat’s cheese with any dried herbs or spices, for example cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin or chilli, also try a spoonful of your favourite chutney or caramelized onions in place of the honey.
If you’re vegetarian, look out for the Vegetarian Society logo on packets to ensure you’re using a cheese made without animal rennet.
Head over to my new project Khoollect for more delicious recipes you can create at home.