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This is a gourmet salad using everyday ingredients. Especially in winter, it's a welcome, light and elegant change from all the stodge!

Caramelized Pear & Walnut Salad with Gorgonzola
A salad for all seasons!

Ingredients


  • 2 - 3 just-ripe and still-firm pears
  • 45 ml lemon juice mixed with 1.2 liters cold water
  • 80 ml white sugar
  • 80 ml walnut halves, lightly toasted
  • Maldon salt
  • 30 ml finely sliced spring onion
  • 15 ml light brown sugar
  • 30 ml honey
  • 45 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 125 ml walnut or macadamia oil
  • freshly-milled black pepper
  • 500 ml sweet baby lettuces like Lollo reds and greens
  • 500 ml peppery baby leaves like rocket, watercress and radicchio
  • 45 ml salted butter
  • 90 ml castor sugar
  • 80 - 125 g gorgonzola cheese



Chef's hint: You can use any kind of blue cheese you fancy. And if you don’t fancy blue cheese simply use sour-ish goat’s cheese or soft Danish feta sprinkled with loads of cracked black pepper and grated lemon rind to add a good kick and a little bit of tart to the otherwise bland cheese and sweet nuts and pears.

Method


First prepare the pears. Wash and core them. Slice them into medium-thick wedges and place in the lemon water. Set aside.

Now caramelize the nuts. Begin by lining a baking sheet with a non-stick silicone mat or baking paper and place close by the stove. Then spread the sugar in a medium frying pan with a thick bottom. Place the pan on medium heat and leave it be for the sugar to start melting and then start stirring with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the sugar has melted and the colour just starts to go amber. Now immediately remove the pan from the heat add the walnuts. Stir quickly to coat each nut and then as quickly as possible tip the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet. Use forks to separate the nuts from each other, working very quickly. With your fingers crumble a little Maldon salt over the nuts and set aside.

For the dressing, pound the spring onion and sugar in the mortar and pestle until the onion is minced then stir in the honey and vinegar. Add the oil in a very light drizzle while whisking until the oil is incorporated and the mixture has emulsified. Season to taste with Maldon salt and black pepper and set aside.

Just before serving, arrange the leaves onto a serving platter(s) and keep set aside briefly.

Drain the pears and dry well with kitchen paper. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and add the pears and castor sugar. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes shaking the pan or stirring occasionally until the pears are slightly caramelized, tender and translucent but not mushy. Remove from the heat and immediately arrange on top of the salad leaves. Top the pear slices with small nuggets of the cheese, add the nuts and with a spoon, drizzle the dressing lightly over the salad. Serve at once.

Serves 4 6 depending on the course.