Blue cheese, pear and walnuts.....I was tempted to just write that and be done with it. Such a combination doesn't need much more of an introduction. But that wouldn't give you much to read and it wouldn't give me time to
waffle natter about food, and that is something I love to do.
I didn't always love blue cheese, it has grown on me slowly. At first it was the mild creamy taste of a blue cheese mousse, moving onto the creamy taste of a Gorgonzola, and finally the piquant tang of some Roquefort. Not forgetting my roots and the amazing Stilton. All so yummy, perfect on crackers, toast, gorgeous melted, perfect in a sandwich....just about anywhere you can put cheese you can find a blue cheese that will work.
Blue cheese divides people...it divides cheese eaters...some love it...some hate it... I love it and I work on making everyone else love it too 😉
I can remember blue cheese always being presented during meals in France, the cheese course in France comes before the pudding, rather than at the end of the meal, but neither of my parents ate it so I never tried it. It was stinky mouldy cheese!!! Why (thinking as an 8-14 year old) would I want to eat mould!!! And that is a fair question and one that now is answered with a simple "because it is delicious". But fundamentally that is the issue with blue cheese....it looks odd, it looks like something you shouldn't eat. But as with lots of things in life...just because you shouldn't it doesn't mean you don't.
Continuing with blue cheeses past.....A cheese platter, which always included Stilton, was served at Christmas, and in the English way of after pudding, so people could relax with cheese and port. Oh how I love cheese and port....Oh how my jeans don't love cheese and port 😉 (not as a child you understand!!!)
So it was there in my life...but it wasn't until I accidentally ordered it in a little bistro in Nottingham, that I actually realised I had been missing out. I say accidentally but really it was more of a rash decision based on a thought process that went something like this,"I have to order and I have to order now and I really don't want the pâté" (my love and loathing of pâté is another post entirely 😉 ) So I ordered a poached pear filled with a blue cheese mousse served with a port reduction. Today that just sounds like food heaven and I am wondering whether I need to adapt this recipe to add a port reduction!! But at the time I was under pressure and I panic ordered, man I am glad I did. It was amazing. Firm yet soft (you can have both...think fridge cold butter) pear, melt in the mouth blue cheese mousse and a sticky rich sauce. There was definite food envy from across the table...but I wasn't sharing! No, I don't want to taste the pâté...that is how I ended up in this
mess amazing situation where I have the mouldy divine blue cheese.
It started with a mousse and ended with chunks straight from the fridge when no one is looking...No seriously I never do that....NEVER! 😳
Just like mozzarella, blue cheese changes entirely when melted. It becomes milder, sweeter but still retains the salt bite I love.
Pear and blue cheese....the little bistro in Nottingham knew it was a winning combination and I am certain you will find this a winner too. Served individually this is a great starter but serve two halves with some bread and you have a great lunch or supper. Watch this space for an update....I really want to try this with a port dressing 🙂
Serves 2 as a supper or 4 as a starter
For the Salad
- 2 firm but ripe pears (Beurre Bosc or Anjou)
- 80 g Blue cheese (Roquefort or Stilton)
- 3 large handfuls of rocket (one small single serve bag)
- 2 tbsp of shelled chopped walnuts
- 4 tsp olive oil
For the dressing
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 6 tbsp olive oil (extra-virgin if you have it)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan forced/Gas mark 4
- Peel the pears and cut in half lengthways.
- Using a teaspoon remove the seeds to create a nice well in each half of pear.
- Turn the pears over and take a thin slice off the round, to allow the pears to sit flat.
- Place the pears on a lined baking sheet, fill the wells with blue cheese, drizzle with the oil and roast for 25 minutes until the pear is tender and the cheese is molten.
- Whilst the pears are cooking combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and stir/shake to combine.
- Dress the rocket with about 2 tbsp of dressing (adding more or less depending on personal preference) The remaining dressing will keep in the fridge and is great as an non mayonnaise based sauce for coleslaw mix.
- Serve the pears on the rocket, with a crumbling of walnuts, an extra drizzle of dressing and a good grinding of black pepper.