This is a contemporary salad which has actually been around for quite a while now and we regularly prepare it as part of our cooking holiday in France. I think it has achieved classic status.
The only thing that needs any preparation to speak of is the dressing, but the pears do need to be ripe and juicy – comice are perfect for this – and the parmesan needs to be shaved from a fresh block (if you haven’t got any to hand, a good strong cheese like stilton or feta will do very nicely indeed, but completely forget about using that dirty sock-flavoured sawdust sold in pots, laughingly labelled ‘Freshly Grated Parmesan’).
If you want to turn this from a starter into a main course just add some strips of dry-cured ham, smoked duck breast, or sauteed chicken livers.
2 ripe juicy comice pears
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp grain mustard
6 tblsp walnut oil
freshly ground black pepper
handful of fresh walnut halves, roughly crushed
small block of fresh parmesan
Peel and core the pears, then smear with a little lemon juice to prevent them turning brown.
Put the vinegar and a good pinch of salt in a screw-top jar and shake until the salt has desolved. Add the mustard and walnut oil, then shake again to emulsify – the emulsion will hold for ten minutes or so, but give it another jiggle just before you use it to dress the salad.
Assemble the salad: slice the pears lengthwise into thin segments and place them rustically on four serving plates along with the roquette, then scatter over the bruised walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Using a potato peeler, shave the parmesan over the salad, then ‘dust’ with a little ground black pepper.
About the author:
Fred Fisher is an experienced chef who has worked with TV chef Rick Stein, among others. He runs relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holidays in the Dordogne, France. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.cookinfrance.com
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