When I speak about ‘meal salads’, I usually imagine some type of cold food (rice, chicken, pasta, beans) served in a way that vaguely resembles a salad (some green bits and maybe red bits mixed in). I like to believe that these ‘usually-hot-foods-served-cold’ type of meals count as healthy ‘light’ dinners (basically because they’re cold, but I know better…). However, once summer comes around and the temperatures start to reach 32°C and over, my will to cook
and exist as a relatively normally functioning human decreases dramatically. On those days, rather than grabbing a bag of chips and calling it a meal (which happens more often than I dare to admit to), even a glutton like me desires an easy-to-make-light-but-also-filling-10-minutes-to-prepare meal that mainly consists of some fresh, leafy greens lightly tossed in a refreshing vinaigrette dressing (rather than a mayonnaise-based one *gasp*). And so, this rather simple and elegant salad over here came to be. While it is quite simple with only few ingredients, this salad does have some good qualities in the form of a handful of lightly-toasted walnuts, a soft-boiled egg for protein, some thinly sliced raw onion for a bit of a kick and some thin slivers of zesty cheese! It basically tastes like a bag of cheese-and-onion chips, but with leafy greens instead of potato… which makes it healthy, right?
For this salad, I’ve chosen a lovely dark-orange aged Mimolette cheese. Flavour-wise, Mimolette is reminiscent of a mildly-aged Gouda, or a nice Edam cheese…but it is a tad nuttier, definitely smells a bit funkier, and that pop of orange colour does make your food look extra bright and summer-y!
Having said that, it’s no coincidence that the flavour of this French cheese is similar to that of a Dutch Edam. In the seventeenth century, King Louis XIV ordered a native French cheese to be made to replace the Dutch Edam since mercantilist policies prevented the French from importing various food products. Thus, Mimolette was born! In order to make this cheese slightly distinct from the Dutch Edam, annatto is added to give the cheese it sweet, nutty flavour and distinct dark-orange colour (funnily enough, orange is, of course, a well-loved colour in The Netherlands… is it an (accidental) tribute?). But, it’s not just the colour that makes this cheese so distinct. Apart from the addition of annatto, cheese-mites are encouraged to roam and munch freely on the rind, resulting in a moon-crater like surface with a dusty greyish coloured rind and a particularly nutty flavour and slightly-stinky smell. While (most of) the mites are brushed off of the cheese before being sold (or so they say), the mites, which are very very tiny, are the reason this particular cheese is illegal in some countries, including the US.
Apparently, this salad is a bit more exciting and scandalous than it seems after all…
Tip #1: Can’t find Mimolette cheese? Don’t want to get caught for smuggling illegal contraband into the US? Replace the cheese with aged Edam, aged Gouda cheese, or even a mature cheddar.
Baby Spinach Salad with Mimolette, Soft-Boiled Eggs and Walnuts