When you first start writing a blog, you are flooded with messages of encouragement and support from friends and family. Everything you bake or photograph is always greeted with superlatives and the kindest words. Then, a few months down the line, some of them started questioning discreetly, "So, do you eat ALL of that you make, at home or is there someone you share it with??". And by now, a few have come right out and proclaimed with a certain incredulity, "I do hope you are NOT eating all that you make!!" If you knew of my challenges with my metabolism, you would agree these are all valid concerns.
So, for all my concerned friends out there, you will be happy to know that I have made willing or unwilling guinea pigs out of all my friends and family. My unsuspecting neighbours have been particularly targeted!! I restrict myself to a small portion of whatever it is that I have made or baked. I have realised I bake not because I am a foodie, (in fact, I hardly qualify as one) but because it makes me happy watching people enjoy my food. It's as simple as that!!
But, to put your mind at rest, I bring you a salad today!! While salads are usually linked with summer, do remember the excesses of December haven't completely been erased. I found this salad in Nigel Slater's Ripe, fast becoming the book I turn to when I want to know what to do with the fruit of the season.
The salad works with the classic combination of pears and blue cheese and is further, embellished with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds. The salad dressing is a simple combination of vinegar-oil-cream. For the salad leaves, I only had iceberg lettuce to work with. Ideally, I would have preferred to use a combination of salad leaves, with some darker leaves to add to the visual look of this salad.
Reading about the salad, you imagine that the flavours of the blue cheese would dominate. But, here is where the delicate pear surprises, as it stands up effortlessly to the cheese. The toasted walnuts with their nuttiness are a welcome addition on the textural front. The pomegranate seeds add a certain jewelled visual to the salad with the dressing being the glue that brings it all together.
This salad looks deceptively light and delicate but in fact, has some robust flavours that make it ideal for the season. The salad is so flavoursome that it should be the highlight of your meal. Pair it with something simple like I did, with some chicken sandwiches.
Winter Salad of Pears, Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Adapted from the book, Nigel Slater's 'Ripe'. Serves 2.
- a plump pear, ripe but slightly crisp
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- crisp salad leaves
- 2-3 thick slices of firm, blue cheese
- a handful of walnut halves
- half a pomegranate
For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cream
- 2 tablespoons salad oil
- salt, to taste
- Core the pear. Slice the pear into quarters and then cut the fruit into thin slices. Brush the pear with lemon juice so as to avoid discolouration.
- Make the dressing. Pour the vinegar into a small bowl and dissolve a pinch of salt in it. Stir in the oil, then the cream and whisk well.
- Toast the walnuts and break the pomegranate into separate seeds.
- Place the salad leaves and pear pieces on a plate. Crumble the blue cheese over the leaves.
- Pour over the dressing.
- Scatter the walnuts and pomegranate over the salad and serve.