Herbed Goat Cheese and Shaved Lemon Sandwiches

On hot days, like today, I never want to eat a dinner that’s very heavy.  That being said, I can’t STAND having to eat light food that skimps on flavor.

This sandwich — one of my all time favorites to make at home — fits the bill perfectly.  It’s super simple to put together, and also gets bonus points for feeling totally indulgent.  Even better: it’s delicious with rosé, my go-to wine when the apartment is sweltering from the afternoon sun.

What is this magical food?  Herbed goat cheese sandwiches with lemon and arugula, of course!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Check it out:  recipe and more fotos after the jump.

So what’s in this crazy concoction?  Well, I start with thin slices of toasted walnut levain from Acme, then slather on a homemade mixture of fresh chevre, herbs and seasonings.  The sandwich is finished with thin shavings of lemon and fresh arugula leaves (you might notice a little slice of tomato in the photo above — that gosh darned gentleman friend of mine INSISTED on having tomato on his today, but I make my sandwiches without them.  I think the lemon adds plenty of acidity).

The flavor of these babies manages to be both explosive and delicate; the zesty, bright lemon cuts through any creamy, unctuous cheese lingering on the palate.  Today, I paired the sandwiches with a red butter lettuce salad featuring capers, some leftover roasted asparagus, heirloom tomatoes and super sweet young purple onions, tossed with a dijon moscatel vinaigrette.  Fabulous.  It’s Provence-inspired noshing at its finest.  And it gives us an excuse to bust out the Tavels and Bandols.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Lemon Sandwiches with Arugula

1/2 lb fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped mixed herbs (I like lots of flat leaf Italian parsley, fresh thyme, fresh oregano or marjoram, chives, or even tarragon — whatever I have on hand)
— kosher salt and pepper to tastae
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flake (optional)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 organic lemon
1 cup tightly packed arugula leaves (around a large handful), washed and dried
1 loaf walnut levain, or your own favorite crusty artisan country bread

Preheat the oven to 350° F (if you have a large enough toaster or toaster oven, you can toast your bread in that and skip this step).

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the herbs, salt and pepper, garlic and red pepper flake.  Using a spoon, blend the mixture until the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the cheese.  This mixture can be made ahead of time — in fact, the cheese will taste better after sitting for a few hours, or overnight.

Thinly slice pieces of the levain (two slices per sandwich), and toast in the oven until they are just crisped, but not crunchy.

While the bread crisps, prepare the lemon slices.  Cut off one end of the lemon, so the inner flesh is exposed.  Using a mandoline set to .5mm setting, slice the lemons into paper thin rounds.  You’ll need to shave just under half of the lemon.

Once the bread has toasted, smear on a bit of the goat cheese.  Sprinkle on a few of the lemon slices, then garnish with the arugula.  Spread a bit more cheese on the other piece of bread, top off the sandwich with it, and serve.  These sandwiches are especially good with a simple salad and a glass of wine.

lemon shavings
lemon shavings (yes, you eat the rind and pith!)
remnants of herbed goat cheese
remnants of herbed goat cheese
mise en place for lemon shavings
mise en place for lemon shavings