This recipe most definitely falls under the category of “home run” in my kitchen. I first had a similar dish while at a restaurant in my hometown a few months ago. It is something I probably wouldn’t have even ordered on my own, but it is one of my dad’s favorite restaurants and he recommended the appetizer to me. A ball of goat cheese with a Parmesan coating surrounded by a pool of brilliant green basil oil. Our entire meal was wonderful but the appetizer was the thing that really stood out to me. For months afterward, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I wanted to try making it but I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my memory. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch. Finally I got tired of just thinking about it and decided to do something about it. I fully expected to end up making multiple renditions and tweaks but surprisingly, it came out just as I wanted on the first try. I am embarrassed to admit how much of this I enjoyed for my afternoon snack that day, but I will say that I effectively ruined my dinner :)
If you have bought goat cheese before, you may know that it can vary widely in texture and firmness. I recommend a semi-firm variety for this recipe, keeping in mind that you need to shape it into a ball. The step of blanching the basil is meant to help preserve the bright green color in the oil. Though certainly not a requirement, it makes for a stunning presentation. The smooth and tangy goat cheese pairs nicely with the subtly sweet basil oil for an appetizer that is both beautiful and tough to resist.