I was traumatized by salad in my youth. My parents made me eat it way too often, and I hated that green leafy stuff. I even had an actual “food period” where I wouldn’t eat anything green. Seriously, like, not even green jello. But now, I guess it’s the age and all, I’ve come to occasionally making salad for my self, after a well deserved break and no-salad policy. In the course of trying to find a combination of salad I liked, I recently came across this following recipe. It’s simply a wonderful combination, and once I’ve made it I could eat it for days.
Here is my recipe for spiced rocket salad with glazed pears and goat cheese. It takes about 30 minutes and serves 6-8 people.
For the pears –
- 4-5 pears (preferably the sort “abate fetel”)
- some olive oil
- freshly grounded black pepper
- 1 ts grounded cinnamon
- 1/2 ts pounded coriander seeds
- 1/2 ts mixed spice*
- juice of 1 orange
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
* = Mixed spice is an english spice mix (duh), usually used for sweet dishes and baked goods. You can find it in delicatessen shops. It’s made of 1 cinnamon stick, 1 ts freshly grated nutmeg and 1 ts cayenne pepper. The recipe I have is from Tom Kime, who also adds 1 ts of cloves, 2 ts grounded ginger, 1 ts coriander seeds and (depending on your taste) some caraway. It is important to use fresh, whole spices (if you can) and to grind them in a mortar.
For the salad –
- 3 tbs fine olive oil
- juice of 1 small lemon
- 100g rocket salad (/arugula) or watercress
- 50g shaved parmesan
- 300g crumbled goat cheese (better a little creamy than too dry)
- 30 leaves of flat leaved parsley, chopped coarsely
- 75g roasted pine nuts
- Heat a grill pan and preheat the oven to 200° C. Peel and the pears and cut them into quarters, remove the cores. Mix in a bowl with the oil, pepper and other spices. Then grill the pears in the hot pan, 1-2 minutes on each side, until they start to caramelise.
- Remove the pears from the pan and lay in a roasting tin. Pour over with the orange juice and vinegar and shove into oven for 8 minutes. Then pull back out and lay to cool in a bowl.
- Blend the 3 tbs olive oil and the lemon juice with the pear juice left over in the roasting tin for the dressing. I never cook with salt, but if you do want to add some here, be careful not to take too much, since the goat cheese is already pretty salty. Optionally add pepper.
- Jumble the rocket salad with the pears. Add part of the parmesan, goat cheese and chopped parsley. Douse with the dressing and fold in gently.
- Arrange the salad on a plate, sprinkle the rest of the parmesan, goat cheese and the roasted pine nuts, then serve.
This salad is suitable as a prelude to a special menu, since it’s not just easily made but also has an interesting taste, especially in the combination of grilled pears and goat cheese. You can also add fried rashers of bacon if you like. The pears taste good warm or cold, but if they’re too hot the cheese starts to melt and tastes differently. As a side you can use ciabatta or baguette.