Goat cheese balls in tomato sauce appetizer

by Eric Borzino on February 9, 2011

Rolling goat cheese into balls and serving it in a simple homemade tomato sauce is an appetizer that even ant-goat fans will enjoy. If you want to really step up the dish, try one of these higher-end goat cheeses.

“You don’t like goat cheese?” “I don’t like goat’s anything. I don’t like goats being involved in any stage of the food production process.”

Goat cheese can be a bit much for some given its strange taste and funky smell compared to cow’s milk cheeses. Rolling the semi-soft goat cheese into spheres, pouring warm tomato sauce over it, and spooning the warm goat cheese & tomato sauce onto slices of rustic Italian bread is an accessible goat cheese dish for non-lovers and a fun way to kick-off any gathering.

Roll goat cheese like an armadillo

 
The inspiration for this dish came from the Boston restaurant, Paramont. This is a quintessential, Beacon Hill neighborhood restaurant that always has solid food that is slightly different. One of its appetizers is the Warm Goat Cheese with Stewed Plum Tomato. The restaurant takes the goat cheese, forms it into disks, flour & breads it lightly, fries it slightly, and then serves it with stewed tomatoes and grilled bread. A simple, light yet gorgeous dish. The warmth from the tomato sauce helps melt the goat cheese, which oozes its beautiful self all into the sauce. It turns into a bloody, delicious mess, perfect for slopping up with bread. For a recent Superbowl get-together, I did a reincarnation of the dish, less the pan frying of the goat cheese & without the presentation pizazz.

Goat cheese is a fairly soft cheese that is extremely pliable. This makes it perfect for shaping into a pretty orb and spice it up with herbs, olives, and more. Although the shape does not last long when paired with the subtle heat of a freshly made tomato sauce, the diameter of the goat cheese circle helps it maintain some body as its outer layers meld into one with the sauce. The tangy slightly off cheese with the sweetness and garlic from the tomato sauce make great friends.

Goat cheese melting in tomato sauce up-close

Tomato sauce with goat cheese

 
Not all tomato sauces have to be the Godfather red gravy/ragu. I love making a simple sauce with a healthy number of minced garlic gloves, a can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, and a bunch of basil. Over low heat, I first infuse the olive oil and saute the garlic. Once soft, I pour in a can (or two) or the tomatoes. Plenty of salt and pepper. And then let it go, on low to medium-low heat for at least an hour.

This slow cooking approach allows the tomato to break down and release it juices slowly. In this process, the acidity that sometimes come from tomatoes is cooked down and its natural sweetness shines. No cheating with sugar on my watch! Throughout the low and slow tomato simmering process, I’ll gradually adding bundles of shredded basil. The sauce is done whenever you’d like it to be. It makes a great base for other more complex tomato-based sauces or is ready to go on its own.

Goat cheese balls in tomato sauce

Pour this easy tomato sauce over the goat cheese nuggets and let the magic happen. I sprinkle parmesan cheese for that extra layer of depth. Strong, crunchy, rustic bread is a must. I prefer Italian style, preferably bought the same day that looks something like this. Don’t be bashful. It ain’t pretty looking, so dig in hands first.

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