I simply had to include Västerbottensost in a recipe after hearing the old wives tale about its start in life. As the story goes, it was made by accident in 1872 by Ulrika Eleonora in Sweden. She was distracted from her dairy maid duties by a lover, and when she returned, believed she had ruined the cheese. But it turned out she’d made this awesome stuff. How cool is that story?
So I had a little think about what I could make that would reflect the magic that can sometimes come from forgotten-about foods, and what better fits that bill than croutons? You know the drill, you buy a loaf of posh bread for some occasion or another, it doesn’t all get finished and you leave it in the back of the cupboard where it goes undiscovered ’til the middle of the week. But all is not lost when it comes to stale ciabatta, bake them in the oven with some olive oil and they’re reincarnated as gourmet croutons. I thought that was a pretty good fit.
Before I go on with the recipe, I’ll tell you a little bit more about Västerbottensost. In Sweden it is known as the King of Cheeses, and if that’s not enough of a clue as to how great it is then the fact that it’s only available in Waitrose and Ocado should be. It’s a hard cheese, a little softer than cheddar but capable of doing all the same stuff with way tastier results. It grates nicely, melts well and would be a welcome addition to any cheeseboard.
for the salad
2 vines cherry tomatoes
pinch of salt
70g baby leaf wild rocket
handful of olives (any kind you fancy)
few shavings Västerbottensost
for the croutons
half a stale ciabatta loaf
3 tbsps olive oil
2 or 3 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
few sprigs rosemary – thick stalks removed
for the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
juice of half a lemon
drizzle of honey
- Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 5 (conversions here)
- Roughly slice your loaf into cubes, you can tear it or use a serrated edged knife. Throw the bread into a roasting dish, a baking tray with raised edges or whatever else you happen to have in your cupboard that’s oven-safe. (my mum broke our other roasting dish, so I’m using a quiche thingy)
- Put the olive oil, rosemary and garlic in a little cup and just kind of rub it all together with your hands. Jamie Oliver told me to do this on one of his shows, he said it did something for the flavour and I trust him unconditionally.
- Pour the oil over the bread and toss it with your hands to make sure there’s not a dry crumb in the house.
- Grab another roasting tin and put the tomatoes in on the vine, drizzle with some oil and sprinkle with some salt.
- Put the tomatoes and the croutons on the top shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are looking wrinkly and the croutons are golden brown.
- While you’re waiting for the oven to do its thing, start building the rest of the salad. Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a jam jar and shaking them up, then just set it aside.
- Spread your rocket out on a serving tray then cover it with the olives, chop them up if you want, leave them whole if you want, doesn’t matter too much either way.
- Pour as much or as little of the dressing over as you prefer and toss together with your hands.
- When the tomatoes and croutons are out of the oven, set one of the vines aside. Carefully pluck the tomatoes from the other vine and drop them onto the salad then throw all the croutons on there.
- Delicately sprinkle your cheese shavings over the dish then place the whole vine of tomatoes on top.
Your track recommendation for this recipe is Buffalo Stance because (fun fact) Nenah Cherry was born in Sweden.
Thanks for reading x