Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Warm Pear and Walnut salad with Roquefort Dressing and Croutons

2 hard dessert pears
1.5oz/40g walnut pieces
1tbsp walnut oil
1/2oz/10g butter
2 rounded tbsp crème fraiche
5oz/150g Roquefort, Shropshire Blue, or Cashel Blue cheese
1 large egg yolk
4oz/110g herb salad or equivalent
2oz/50g bread cut into small cubes
1 dessertspoon olive oil

Preheat to 350f/180c
Begin by making the croutons
Place 1/2oz/10g of the cheese in a bowl anf using a fork, blend it with the olive oil. Now add the cubes of bread and toss them thoroughly till coated, then spread them out on the baking sheet, and pop them into the oven for 10-12 minutes until they are evenly brown. These can be made well in advance.
For the salad:
Cut the pears into quarters, remove cores, but lave the skin on, then cut each quarter into 4 slices. Next heat the walnut oil in a large frying pan, and lightly saute the walnuts, tossing them around for about a minute, then transfer with a draining spoon to a plate.
Add the butter to the pan, add the pears and sauté fro 2-3 min on each side until they are nicely brown. Drain on a paper towel, arrange on a plate and keep warm.
Make the sauce:
Place crème fraiche in a small saucepan with the rest of the cheese, crumbling as you add it. Now whisk the two together over a gentle heat till the cheese begins to melt and form a sauce. Drop in the egg yolk and continue to whisk till the sauce thickens. Don’t let it reach boiling point, it should be almost there, but not quite. Remove from heat.
Divide the salad leaves between the plates, arrange the pears around the leaves, scatter over the walnuts, and pour over the dressing. Serve immediately.

This is from a collection of vegetarian recipes from Delia Smith.
It’s basically many different parts that need to be made and then it gets assembled at the last minute. It sounds like it might be difficult or stressful, but each of the parts is so easy, it’s really no big deal.

I had never made my own croutons before. I know it’s not like rocket science or anything, but it’s still something new to me. It always seemed like it would be a pain to bother with, but it was really nothing, and the flavor from the cheese/oil coating was nice. I’ve also never made a hot salad dressing before. I was worried that it would be weird, and that it would make the salad leaves all wilt-y, but it wasn’t like that at all. The warmth of the dressing just hi-lighted the warmth of the pears and walnuts, but the leaves stayed crispy.
This was a really nice combination of flavors. Very satisfying salad!

Also, if you can’t get Roquefort, anything in the blue or stilton families will do.


CookBad said...

This looks fantastic.

AteThat said...

I loved this one, and the dressing was so good that Albert scraped the pot with a peice of bread ot get every last bit.

I'm really enjoying the salads, I've never really done anything interesting with a salad before.