French-Inspired Gouters (Small Tastes)

The French really do know how to enjoy a meal! This appetizer will be a hit at your next dinner party, or even just at a romantic dinner for two. I modeled this recipe after an appetizer Mike and I would order at Sel de la Terre, one of our favorite restaurants that unfortunately just shuttered its doors after New Year’s Eve. There are three components: golden roasted garlic, balsamic-drenched braised shallots, and an eggplant-goat cheese spread. Sounds complicated, but is exactly the opposite. Good bread to serve alongside this is a must. Baguette or rustic sourdough boule are great choices. Bon appetit! 

French Inspired Gouters (small tastes)

Left: eggplant-goat cheese spread ingredients in the food processor; Right: balsamic-braised shallots

French-Inspired Gouters (Small Tastes)
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 whole heads garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 whole eggplant
  • 4 oz. package goat cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. cream cheese
  • 4-6 shallots
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Cut a small slice off the tops of both of the heads of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves inside, double-wrap in aluminum foil, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Close the aluminum foil pouch and place in the oven for 45 minutes or more, until the garlic is completely soft and golden. Remove from the oven, unwrap and let cool before squeezing the garlic out into a small serving bowl and adding a little olive oil to the top.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and small dice the eggplant and toss with 4 tbsp. or so of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on a sheet pan. Roast for 25-35 minutes, tossing once, until soft. Let cool for a minute before proceeding.
  4. In a food processor, combine the eggplant, goat cheese, parmesan, lemon juice and cream cheese with 1 tbsp. olive oil and blend until nicely combined, about 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper or more lemon as desired. If you want to thin it without adding any more oil, a tablespoon or so of water will work well. Spoon into a separate serving dish.
  5. Peel the shallots and heat an ovenproof saute pan over medium heat. Cut the shallots in half if they are big; try and make them all the same sized pieces. Melt the 1 tbsp. butter and toss in the shallots and 1 tsp. sugar and saute for about 10 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary--you want the shallots to caramelize slowly on all sides.
  6. Add the balsamic to the pan, toss with the shallots, season with salt and pepper and place the pan in the oven for 30 minutes or more, tossing once or twice and adding a little more balsamic as necessary (to keep braising liquid in the pan) until the shallots are soft. While the pan is still warm, transfer to a third serving bowl, scraping all the balsamic glaze with a spatula into the bowl. Serve with your favorite rustic bread.
  7. Enjoy all three things together in one bite or separately!



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