Let the Christmas dinner menu planning begin. Poached Pear and Blue Cheese was our starter last year and we'll be kicking off Christmas dinner again this year with a variation of this classic. Pear and blue cheese are a perfect pairing and I adore this salad as much for its lightness as its taste. I might hold a minority view point on what I'm about to say next, but I'm not a fan of big, indulgent Christmas dinners. Not for calorie counting reasons or anything like that. Rather, I much prefer a steady stream of grazing throughout the day and I find a big lunch only ruins my afternoon eating plans, and I cannot be tolerating that.
This dish is so simple to throw together, so please don't be worried about spending too much time in the kitchen Christmas Day. Described in a nutshell, it's pears poached in a delicious sweet liquid and served with chicory leaves, grapes, toasted walnuts and a generous serving of crumbled blue cheese. The dressing is a simple drizzle of honey and olive oil.
Now standby for some important points to note: Do not be stingy with your blue cheese, a decent serving is key. It's also really important to use chicory as your green leaf here. Sometimes when people see recipes with green leaves, they may be tempted to use whatever leaf they have, but using anything but chicory (or radicchio as an alternative) would do this salad an injustice. Chicory's firm crisp leaves with their bitter taste are the perfect balance to the sweet pear and the strong blue cheese.
For special occasion dinners, I like to serve this salad on individual plates. But for a more casual take on this dish, just serve it in one large salad bowl and let your guests can help themselves.
This dish is pretty much a cheese plate in the form of a starter: nuts, honey, beautiful blue cheese, pear and grapes. Now get to your nearest cheese counter and score your Christmas stash of blue cheese ASAP. Keep scrolling for the recipe.
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp honey
1.5 cups red wine
Juice of an orange
1 cup water
Pinch of sea salt
2 small heads of chicory.
100g blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts
20 red grapes, de-seeded and halved
For the dressing:
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Put the white wine vinegar, honey, red wine, orange juice and water into a saucepan. Add a pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil.
Peel the pears, halve them and core them. Place the pears into the poaching liquid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the pears for 15 minutes before removing them from the heat and set to one side. That's the hard work all done!!
Roughly chop the walnuts, and heat on a dry pan over a low heat for about five minutes, tossing them regularly. Once they are gently toasted, remove the nuts from the pan and set them to one side.
To assemble the salad on individual plates, place three leaves of chicory on each plate. Place two pear halves beside the chicory. Crumble about 15-20g blue cheese over the pears and chicory. Add about four grapes to each plate and top with some chopped walnuts. To finish, mix a tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon of olive oil and drizzle a little over each plate.
It's that simple, but tastes oh-so-delicious.