An elegant and sophisticated salad that makes good use of verjus (verjuice) in the dressing. I use a local blue cheese, such as Roquefort in this salad; however, please do use a local blue cheese of your choice - any creamy or robust blue cheese will marry well with the pears and tart dressing. Verjuice, or verjus, is the juice of unripe grapes. This staple of French provincial cooking, a key ingredient in Dijon mustard, has the tartness of lemon juice and the acidity of vinegar, but the harshness of neither. Its delicate flavour is ideal for everything from stocks to sweet syrups - as long as you know what you're doing. Verjus was also a common ingredient used in English cooking throughout the Middle Ages. I try to make a batch of verjus every year with the green grapes from my non-dessert grape vine - as I love cooking with it. This recipe came from an old copy of Bon Appetit magazine from 2005. Prep time includes the time it takes the pears to cool.
- 1⁄3 cup verjus or 3 tablespoons white grape juice and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1⁄3 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Pears and salad
- 3 bunches fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 ripe but firm bartlett pears, halved, cored (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- 1⁄4 cup honey
- 1 head butter lettuce, coarsely torn
- 4 ounces baby rocket or 4 ounces arugula
- 6 ounces blue cheese, coarsely crumbled
- 1⁄2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- For the dressing:.
- Whisk all ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
- For the pears and salad:.
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F Scatter thyme sprigs on a baking sheet. Place pear halves, cut side down, on work surface. Starting 1/2 inch from stem and leaving pear half intact, cut each lengthwise into scant 1/3- to 1/2-inch-wide slices. Press pear gently to fan slices; place on top of the thyme sprigs. Drizzle pears with honey; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
- To serve.
- Combine lettuce and rocket/arugula in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among plates. Place pear alongside greens. Garnish salads with cheese; sprinkle with the hazelnuts and fresh thyme.