winter salads: poached pear, toasted walnut and blue cheese


despite the cold and chilly weather i still have cravings for the vegetable freshness of salads. inevitably my summer favourite of rocket with tomatoes isn’t going to work unless i slow roast the unseasonal tomatoes to imbue them with some flavour.

however, instead of trying to recreate spring and summer favourites it’s much easier to create wintery salads full of seasonal flavours.

pears, walnuts and cheese are a favourite combination and this version, with its red-wine poached pears, toasted nuts and rich gorgonzola (or a creamy goats cheese if you prefer) make this a bit special.

red wine poached pear, toasted walnut and gorgonzola salad (serves 4)

2 ripe pears,

200ml red wine

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs thyme

1 tablespoon sugar

a handful of walnut halves

100-150g rocket leaves, lightly dressed*

150g gorgonzola

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves

peel and cut the pears into quarters, removing the core. cut each quarter in half lengthways and place in a pan, with the red wine, bay leaf, thyme and sugar. bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. remove from the heat and leave to cool – the pears will become an increasingly bright red as the wine cools, so turn them frequently if they are not covered by the liquid.

put the walnut leaves in a clean non-stick pan and fry gently until you can start to smell them toasting. remove from the heat and leave to cool.

divide the dressed rocket between 4 plates. top with the pears and cheese and sprinkle with the walnuts and parsley before serving.

* i used a mix of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.