The eternal question of “What to have for dinner?” can often be answered by means of the KISS approach — i.e., keeping it simple. Many veggies only need about a three-minute simmer to arrive at their tender/crunchy best and their optimal taste; other veggies, like tomatoes and lettuce, are best raw. And good-quality cheese pretty much stands on its own. By “good-quality,” I mean non-processed cheese that comes in varying sizes and shapes as opposed to uniform shrink-wrapped bars.
Honest-to-goodness cheeses are made with a variety of milks — cow, sheep, goat, even buffalo — and tend to cost at least $15/pound. On the plus side, non-processed cheeses are generally stocked by stores that have a dedicated cheese department and therefore dedicated cheesemongers who are happy to give you a taste of whatever cheese you’d like to try before you commit to buying it. And they’re also happy to cut you whatever size wedge you’d like. I rarely buy more than a quarter pound of any given cheese; often, I buy much less than that. So that $15/pound winds up being more like $4 or less per wedge.
Soft cheeses like the one pictured here — a goat’s-milk Bucheron — are fun to accent with a drizzle of honey or a handful of toasted nuts. Hard cheeses pair nicely with crisp fruit like apples and pears. Truth be told, nearly any kind of cheese perks up when you add a contrasting sweetness to the plate, especially a natural sweetness like a berry or juicy slice of peach. Interspersing bites of salty, savory cheese with a mouthful of something sweet makes each part of the equation all the more vibrant. And from a nutritional standpoint, cheese is a complete protein just like meat, while from a sustainability standpoint, it’s more efficient to produce cheese (and eggs) since you don’t have to slaughter the animal to enjoy cheese made from its milk and cream. So why not enjoy a nice wedge of cheese along with your veggies?
For this meal, I simmered trimmed green beans and trimmed broccoli florets from my garden in a pot of simmering water for 3 minutes. Then I drained them and tossed them with some halved cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar before adding a slice of Bucheron (goat’s-milk cheese) to the plate and trickling a drizzle of honey over the cheese. Simple, elegant, and delicious. Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy to be good! All it takes is a few extra minutes spent browsing through the cheese department and a willingness to try something new.
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