Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

When you are daydreaming about late afternoons at your vacation home in Provence (and the kind of life that would make that possible), pour a glass of wine, grab a baguette and feast on this. Go ahead, make it dinner, who’s judging? This is one of my old favorites from Patricia Wells at Home in Provence. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go add goat cheese to my shopping list.

Anne’s Goat Cheese Gratin

Anne is Wells’ neighbor in Provence who shares her “love of simple, big tastes” — that definitely describes this dish.

  • 10 oz soft goat cheese
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano — I always stick to these herbs but you can definitely try others
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows), at room temp
  • 24 high-quality black olives, pitted – I usually get dry-cured black olives from the olive bar in supermarkets. I cut them in half length-wise so there are more to go around.

Tomato Sauce

You could use any recipe, but hers is simple and really good.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • salt
  • 3 big cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • bouquet garni – sprigs of Italian parsley, bay leaves, celery leaves tied with household twine — or use herbs (fresh or dry) of your choosing

Saute onion in oil with salt, then add garlic, until garlic just turns golden. Add tomatoes and bouquet garni. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. You can cook it about 5 minutes more if you would like it to be a bit thicker. Remove the bouquet garni.

Preheat broiler. Scatter cheese on the bottom of a 10-1/2″ round baking pan (or whatever you’re using). Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon on just enough of the tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with the olives and remaining herbs.

Place under the broiler about 3″ from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant and the sauce is sizzling, about 2-3 minutes.

Serve with sliced rounds of a good baguette. So simple, so good.

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