The Best Cheeses for Salad
What is the best cheese for salad? For National Salad Month we’ve got ideas and cheese salad recipes that will have you saying “cheese” all year long.
May is National Salad Month…which is kind of too bad, because the full bounty of produce to come from our backyard gardens and farmers’ markets won’t be realized for many weeks. But it’s never too early to start thinking about eating more fresh greens, and with the rising temperatures a cooler approach to dinner can be a refreshing change.
So if we’re going to eat more salad, let’s resolve to make it more satisfying, more exciting, and more worthy of consideration as a complete meal. Let’s add cheese.
Cheese for Salad
For starters, not every cheese is right for salad. A smooth, creamy Brie is just too soft and buttery, for example. You want something with substance that you can crumble, shred or cube, and which will lend interesting, contrasting texture to the greens and a rich, rounded counterpoint to the acidity of the dressing.
Feta, of course, is one of the most successful and best-known salad cheeses. This Middle Eastern classic virtually defines Greek salad, and its salty, tangy flavor is one of the best things an extra-virgin olive oil ever met. But, like anything, feta can get monotonous or overdone at times…and there are many other cheeses that can help you get your salad on.
If you order cheese online, you may find that cheeses, like produce, can also be seasonal as many don’t ship well in warm weather…so we’ll give you plenty of options, including good old Cheddar and Swiss.
Cheese Salad Recipes
Goat or Mixed-Milk
Goat and sheep cheeses have long been favorites for salads. After all, feta is made primarily from sheep’s milk in eastern Europe and the Mideast. These milks are typically tangier than cow’s milk, and the cheeses they make follow suit. Be sure to pick one that’s not quite so soft (many are spreadable like cream cheese) and opt for a more aged cheese that can be crumbled a bit. Goat cheese especially complements the sweetness of roasted beets in this interesting recipe.
Everyone knows about blue cheese and salad; it’s why you can buy little tubs of blue cheese pre-crumbled like some feta. Stay away from these; not only will you pay more per ounce, but you’re often buying a product that’s dried out and inferior. Buy a good quality blue cheese, crumble it yourself and enjoy its natural creaminess. Whether you go exotic with Roquefort (usually made with sheep’s milk) or Gorgonzola, or choose one of many excellent domestic cheeses, blue cheese is great on green salads. Blue is also a natural with bacon, which is why it’s an essential ingredient in a steakhouse wedge salad or a classic Cobb salad.
Yes, this one’s done even more than feta is…but it is an absolutely essential salad cheese. Caesar salad is a classic (and although it’s made with purely Italian-influenced ingredients, it was invented in Tijuana, Mexico), and even a simple chop salad is elevated to a new level with shredded Wisconsin Parmesan.
Most people don’t think of Cheddar cheese as a salad ingredient, but in the Midwest it finds its way into many a picnic macaroni salad. And while it may not be the healthiest salad on the planet, English pea salad is a spring classic.
Swiss cheese is also a surprising choice for salads, but it has some of the same nutty flavor characteristics of the hard Italian cheeses. It is also a key ingredient in one of the most unique salads you’ll ever find: Swiss wurstsalat (sausage salad). Now there’s a salad even veggie haters will love!
Our National Salad Month Favorite
If you’re looking for the best way to celebrate Salad Month, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board came up with a real winner. Not only does it actually contain vegetables(!), this spring salad hits the trifecta with a selection of Wisconsin cheeses.