This week’s visit to the Farmer’s Market turned my attention to pears. Yet another signal of the arrival of Autumn, alongside getting dressed into jeans first thing in the morning and having to change to shorts by 11am. The joy of in-between seasons.
I grew up thinking pears were the poor cousins to apples because they never stood up to lunchbox brutality like a Red Delicious. But if treated with care and eaten at the peak of ripeness, which it seems you never can tell until the morning of, they offer a juicy tenderness in their give where the apple smacks of sharp crunch.
That being said, I don’t mind a pear on the crisp side of ripe to eat with a good blue cheese. Add walnuts and you’ve got the trifecta for stinky cheese perfection. Forget crackers. Simply take a slice of pear, add a triangle of blue and crown with a toasted walnut. Pop in your mouth and….Heaven.
This Stephanie Alexander salad takes this idea and moves it from hors d’oevres to entrée.
Pear & Walnut Salad
1 ripe pear
1 tsp cider vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fancy salad leaves
2 tbs walnut pieces
80g Gippsland Blue cheese
Peel and halve the pear and remove the core and stem. Slice thickly into a large bowl with 2 tbs walnut oil and vinegar. Grind over pepper and stand aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C. Cut a thin slice of witlof from root end and pull away the leaves. Wash witlof and salad leaves and dry carefully on paper towel. Toss walnut pieces in a few drops of walnut oil and toast on a baking tray until deep golden and crunchy, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool (do not refrigerate).
Using a knife run under a hot tap, cut rind from cheese, then cut cheese into cubes. Leave to soften at room temperature.
When ready to serve, gently toss witlof, salad leaves, walnuts and cheese with pear and its dressing. Arrange in bowls and serve with hot, toasted sourdough.