Salad

A 10-Minute Make-Ahead Salad That's All About the Cheese

Fact: Cheese salad is the best salad.

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June  5, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

We're partnering with California goat cheese maker Cypress Grove to show you all the ways you can enjoy goat cheese at every meal, from a loaded-up cheese board for dinner (yes, dinner!) to this cheesy broccoli salad that's perfect for lunch.


My boyfriend Nate and I have always appreciated a good cheese salad.

Yes, cheese salad: a salad where cheese is paramount. There might be other stuff in there—leaves, probably, plus the usual trappings—but the salad’s leading lady is some sort of piquant, salty, or otherwise funky cheese.

Take, for instance, any caprese—without mozzarella, it’d be a total flop. Or even something as subtle as Joshua McFadden’s Kale Salad That Started it All, in which finely grated pecorino is key.

But it wasn’t until a few years ago that we met the cheesiest salad of all. It’s called the verza, and it drifts on and off the menu at I Sodi, an Italian place down the block from our apartment. Its main ingredients are cabbage, golden raisins, and nuts. But its dressing is, essentially, pure cheese: a mild, slightly tangy, creamy one called Robiola that tastes like it’s been thinned with a bit of excellent olive oil, before it gets tossed with the cabbage.

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Top Comment:
“Ella, not only does this sound like my kind of salad, but you've helped me with a minor dilemma: I need to bring a salad to my kids' school next week for the end-of-the-year teachers' lunch and was struggling to come up with something I could make the night before without compromising quality and taste. Can't wait to make this!”
— Merrill S.
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The first time Nate and I tried it, we locked eyes mid-bite, like movie villains who’d just had an epiphany about the heist of our lifetimes: This was next-level cheese salad.

Buoyed by the concept of cheese-as-salad-dressing, I began to experiment at home. Would a sharper, headier cheese work in the same way? Was it possible to make a super pared-down version of blue cheese dressing, with just the namesake and oil? And how about something with goat cheese?

(Nate, only too happy to eat the ensuing output, yessed me at every turn.)

This is how I came upon my new favorite lunch companion: the cheesy broccoli salad.

It’s simple—a nod to the verza—with chopped raw broccoli, dates, sour cherries, crumbled Humboldt Fog goat cheese, and walnuts. But the dressing, while uncomplicated to make, is anything but straightforward. It doubles down on punchy goat cheese and calls in olive oil, lemon juice, and zest. And while it's on the opposite end of the subtlety spectrum from the verza's gentle Robiola coating, both fall into a category of dressings I could happily eat with a spoon. (If you know what's good for you, you'll make a double batch for marathon snack-dipping. Think: everything from stray chips to carrots, and everywhere from standing in your kitchen in sweatpants to a picnic blanket.)

The salad itself comes together in about 10 minutes, and is a make-ahead luncher’s dream. After a quick food processor blitz, the cheesy dressing gets tossed with the broccoli and accoutrement. You can eat it right away, but it’s also happy to sit, fully dressed and covered, up to three days.

That is, if you can wait. It is, after all, a pretty perfect cheese salad.

Do you have a favorite cheese salad? Share it with us in the comments below!

Mary Keehn first launched Cypress Grove in 1983, after a fresh goat cheese she perfected over her stovetop quickly caught on in her Humboldt County, California community. She started out with just two goats (Esmeralda and Hazel) and zero experience, but today, Cypress Grove has over 1,000 goats and produces a lineup of award-winning goat cheeses—from their popular Humboldt Fog and Midnight Moon to the one-of-a-kind Danger Zone and Purple Haze. In partnership with Cypress Grove, we're excited to share a creamy, goat cheesy, utterly delicious salad dressing (made with Humboldt Fog!) that will ruin you for all others. We love this dressing over broccoli, dates, sour cherries, and walnuts for a make-ahead lunch, but it also works just as nicely as a picnic side dish or party dip.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.

2 Comments

Merrill S. June 5, 2019
Ella, not only does this sound like my kind of salad, but you've helped me with a minor dilemma: I need to bring a salad to my kids' school next week for the end-of-the-year teachers' lunch and was struggling to come up with something I could make the night before without compromising quality and taste. Can't wait to make this!
 
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Ella Q. June 5, 2019
Thanks Merrill! Hope it’s a hit.