Disclosure: I visited Ayers Brook Goat Dairy and received samples from Vermont Creamery as part of my attendance at Camp Gathering Vermont 2015. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting businesses and brands that I love and trust.
Are you ready for some cuteness all up in your computer screen?
I hope so. Because I’ve got pictures of goats! Including the cutest baby goat you ever laid eyes on. I mean, just look at the sweet face on baby F113. I can’t even deal.
So if you’re wondering why I’m gushing about goats, it’s because I had the pleasure of visiting Ayers Brook Goat Dairy as part of my attendance at Camp Gathering Vermont 2015. For me, this particular outing was one of the highlights of the trip, so I wanted to share a little bit about it with you today.
Also, I want us to stuff our faces with goat cheese all day, every day. That’s just some real talk for your Monday morning.
Ayers Brook Goat Dairy is a sustainable goat dairy farm located in Randolph, Vermont. Established by Vermont Creamery, Ayers Brook Goat Diary, along with many other local farms, supplies milk to Vermont Creamery, who then turn that milk into award winning, artisanal hand crafted cheeses and butters. Holy yum.
But there is something extra special about Ayers Brook Goat Dairy. Because not only do they supply Vermont Creamery with goat milk, but they also serve as a working model for commercial goat dairy farms. Ayers Brook Goat Dairy is establishing itself as a place where students and other farmers can train, learn best practices and acquire genetically high quality dairy goats for their own herds.
Their commitment to education was made very clear during our tour of the farm. Miles Hooper, the Crop and Equipment Manager, eagerly greeted us at the barn and was happy to share his knowledge and answer all the questions we had about the farm and the goats. We learned about the different breeds (you can tell the breeds apart by their ears), the feed and how it changes over the course of their milking and breeding cycle. And how the farm manages and monitors the well-being and genetics of the herd.
To celebrate such a wonderful visit with Ayers Brook Goat Dairy and Vermont Creamery, I just had to make something with one of my favorite Vermont Creamery products: their classic chèvre. Because you can never go wrong with a classic.
I’m not going to lie. This Crusted Goat Cheese Spring Panzanella Salad is all about the cheese and the bread. And I’m totally OK with that. And I think you’ll be too. Because warm, almond-crusted goat cheese and balsamic-soaked bread is certainly enough to win anyone over. But for good measure, I did throw in some mixed greens and snap peas. You know, so we can safely call it a salad. And I added a few honey-roasted apricots to sweetened the deal. Let’s just say it’s my new obsession and I’ll be chowing down on this salad all summer long.
- For the Salad
- 4 cups rustic Italian and French bread, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 4 apricots, pitted and cut in half
- About 2 tsp. honey
- 3 cups mixed green
- 1 cup snap peas
- For the Dressing
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- For the Crusted Goat Cheese
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 8 ounces Vermont Creamery Chèvre (log style, not crumbles)
- 1 egg, beaten
- About 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the bread with the extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread it out onto one half of a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the halved apricots, cut side up, to the other half of the baking sheet and drizzle with the honey. Transfer the baking sheet to your pre-heat oven and cook for 15 minutes, stirring the bread halfway through. Remove and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Set aside.
- Make the crusted goat cheese. In the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment, process the almonds until they are finely chopped. Add the panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl or plate. Slice the goat cheese into eight equal sized pieces. Then using your hands, form the goat cheese pieces into disks. Don’t worry if it’s a little crumbly. As the goat cheese warms slightly in your hands, it will become easier to mold. Dip each goat cheese round into the beaten egg and then into the almond/panko mixture, being sure to coat all sides.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and warm the olive oil. Add the coated goat cheese rounds and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Then gently flip them using a spatula and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. The coating should be golden brown and the goat cheese should be warm and starting to soften, but still hold it’s shape. Carefully remove and transfer the crusted goat cheese to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Finish the salads. Place the roasted bread cubes, mixed greens and snap peas in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Divide the salad between four plates. Top each plate with two of the crusted goat cheese rounds and two of the roasted apricots halves. Serve immediately.
1. I like my panzanella salad lightly dressed. Feel free to mix up and add more dressing, if desired.
Sounds like you had a great time, Liz! And those goats are so cute! I’m loving this salad! Such a good idea to make a crust on the goat cheese. Sounds delish!
Thanks, Gayle! The goats are the cutest! I wanted to take one home with me!
Awh, what fun! Seeing those little goats and hearing their voices must have been a fabulous experience! Getting to know where our food comes from is something I value. I know I would have loved this trip! And this salad, is just delicious! The apricots paired with goat cheese, bread and balsamic vinaigrette….. just love the addition of apricots. What a mouthwatering combination! Thank you for this, Liz!
They were such dolls! I hope you enjoy this salad, Traci!
I WANT ALL THOSE GOATS! Pleaseeee tell me you brought one home?!
I wish! I was tempted!
Sounds like you ladies had an amazing trip!! Thanks for sharing the deets and the pretty picures! And gimme a pile of that crusted goat cheese, please!
I would love to share some crusted goat cheese with you, Julia!
I love the apricots, peas and goat cheese in this spring panzanella. I totally agree that pic of F113 is heart melting material for sure. Gah they were cute. So glad to have met you at camp gathering Liz!
It was great meeting you too, Katie! Can’t wait to see you again!
Those goats are TOO CUTE. Love all the pictures from your trip. So, I’ve been seeing crusted cheeses floating all over the interwebs, and i still haven’t tried it yet! Need to put this on top of my to-cook list!
Oh yeah. Crusted cheese is the bomb. Put that on the top of your list for sure!
Mmmm……goat cheese! My absolute fav. Your pictures are to cute!
Can never go wrong with goat cheese. All day, every day. 🙂
Goats are THE cutest. If I had the yard for them, I’d have at least two. Love this recipe!
Yup, I really wanted to bring one home with me!
As if four big dogs is not enough – now I need a baby goat! Those pics are so adorable I almost passed out! I’ll stuff my face with goat cheese with you any day. This salad rocks my world.
Yeah, the only reason I didn’t bring home a baby goat is because I don’t think my dog would like it very much! Glad you are digging the salad!
I love visiting dairy farms. . .especially the ones that are doing it right. Looks like you had a great time at Ayers Brook Goat Dairy and Vermont Creamery. . .and your panzanella salad is magical!
They are definitely doing it right! Thanks, Alice!
What a fun trip! And this salad sounds delightful. Especially that cheese!
Oh yeah, the cheese is the best part for sure! 🙂
FUN!!!!! I have never in my life visited a dairy farm. Bucket list! And this salad = my love because I could INHALE that crusted goat cheese in seconds.
Definitely a bucket list item! And I definitely inhaled like ALL of these crusted goat cheese rounds. Don’t tell!
Ugh panzanella is just the best. Who doesn’t love some bread in their salad, am I right? And that crusted goat cheese looks to DIE for. Pinning!
Bread and cheese just make a salad SO MUCH BETTER! Thanks for pinning, Medha!
I’m not a huge goat cheese fan, but I would definitely eat this salad. It is full of flavor and everything goes together so well. The goat cheese, apricot, and balsamic is a fantastic combination.
Thanks, Thao! I hope you get a chance to try it out!
We love seeing the story behind the brand. Very cool – and that crusted goat cheese looks divine.
That’s so great to hear. I love the story too! It’s so great to be able to showcase and support local business and farmers.
Love the story of your trip and crusted goat cheese is one of my all-time favourite things. Love this spring take on panzanella!
Thanks, Jennifer! Crusted goat cheese is definitely on my favorites list as well! 🙂
omg this sounds fabulous!!!! I’m all about the bread and fried cheese in my salads, thank you. It’s all about the balance. 🙂
We are totally spirit animals!
Ohhh my!! This looks so good!
Sounds like you had a fun trip! I absolutely love goat cheese, but have never made a crusted goat cheese before. This looks incredible and like something I’d totally devour 😉
Oh if you love goat cheese, then you are definitely going to love this Danielle!
OMGosh, I could *totally* stuff my face with goat cheese all day long. Love it. And, I love the pictures of that darling goat #F113! So adorable!
Thanks, Kristi! I could stuff my face with goat cheese all day too! 🙂
Goat Cheese. Yes. Panzanella. Yes. Will I be having this salad all summer long? Uh, YES! Did you get to take a goat home with you? They are precious!
I really WANTED to take a goat home. But my dog probably wouldn’t have appreciated the play mate! I hope you try out the salad, Heather!
Sounds like you had an awesome time Liz! And wow, crusted goat cheese sounds delish! Perfect salad for my summer menu!
It was really awesome, Mary Ann! Glad you love the salad!
How fun to take a tour of the farm! My daughter is taking a class on a farm that just had baby goats- she was so excited to hold them. This salad sounds like a great way to use the goat cheese. Salads are always about the bread and cheese for me!
Oh the baby goats were just the cutest part. There were some that had just been born that morning and they were all wobbly still! Adorable!
F113’s face would be a highlight for me too! So precious. And that crusted goat cheese is totally making me drool. Yum!
Thanks, Sarah! The crusted goat cheese is totally drool-worthy! 🙂
Super sweet pictures! And omg, you and I were on the same goat cheese wavelength. I usually crisp and warm mine in the oven, but I’ll try doing it a skillet next time!
Glad you love it, Marissa! Chèvre Forevre!
OH. MY GOSH. How cuuuuuute! My hubby is OBSESSED with goats, so I need to show him this post! He wants one so badly, LOL. Our yard is just not big enough, but… maybe some day! This salad looks AMAZING and so pretty! I love the fresh apricot on it– I bet the sweetness goes perfectly with the goat cheese!
Thanks, Jess. The goats were adorable and I totally wanted to take them home!