Baked goat’s cheese cigars with melon, radish and cucumber slaw

Rachel Khoo serves up a delectable starter showcasing the flavours of Provence.

The Nice area tends to produce goat’s cheese rather than cheese made from cow’s milk, as the landscape is too rugged and rough for cows to graze. Eating goat’s cheese from this region really captures the flavours of the terroir. Goats graze on whatever grows, from wild herbs like oregano and thyme to berries, and these flavours subtly influence the end product. 

Serves 4 as a starter
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 15–20 mins

Ingredients
* 1– 2 rectangular filo sheets (depending on the size of your sheets)
* 60g butter, melted
* 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
* 125g soft goat’s cheese
* 4 tsp honey (lavender if possible)

For the slaw:
* 1 small cucumber or ½ a regular cucumber
* ½ unripe galia melon, seeds removed
* 6 radishes, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds

For the dressing:
* 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
* sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan). Unroll a sheet of filo horizontally on your work surface. Cut the filo sheet in half lengthways and in half crossways to make four rectangles measuring approximately 15cm x 20cm.

2. Lay them all out on the work surface, then brush the rectangles generously with butter, ensuring that about one tablespoon is saved to brush the tops. Sprinkle some thyme leaves along the long length of each pastry rectangle and fold it in about 2cm to encase them.

3. Crumble a line of goat’s cheese in a line along the opposite short side of the pastry. Drizzle the honey along the goat’s cheese on each pastry.

4. Starting at the goat’s cheese end, roll the pastry over the cheese and all way to the thyme, sealing the join. Repeat the process to make four cigars. Place on a lined baking tray and brush again with the remaining butter. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

5. In the meantime, make the salad by using a mandolin or speed peeler to julienne the cucumber and the melon flesh. Place them all in a bowl with the radishes. Put the dressing ingredients into small bowl or jam jar and mix well.

6. Once the cigars are cooked, toss your salad with the dressing and place in the centre of your plate. Serve with the cigars on top.

Tips
Filo sheets dry out really quickly. Be sure to store them in cling film. Be gentle when brushing the sheets as they can tear easily.

You can flavour the goat’s cheese with any dried herbs or spices, for example cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin or chilli, also try a spoonful of your favourite chutney or caramelized onions in place of the honey.

More from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook:

Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook by Rachel Khoo (Michael Joseph Hardback / £20 / out now)


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