Dull and wilted salad leaves this is not – I have been making it a bit of a personal mission of mine this summer to see how many new salad concoctions I can come up with. In summer, in particular, I really enjoy having big ‘meal-in-one’ salads and am really enjoying the process of assembling them into something for the eyes to enjoy, just as much as the stomach. The combination of flavours and ingredients may not immediately appeal, but I can assure you – ‘works’. This Flambéed Pear, Blue Camembert and Walnut Salad was created for the very first time for Love the kitchen.
I am quite a fan of blue cheeses, but find some – Stilton and Roquefort spring to mind, crumble too easily. For this reason, I seldom make a salad with these as a core ingredient. I was pleasantly surprised though to discover in my local supermarket’s cheese counter a new blue cheese from President, which near on exact the same texture as a young Brie or Camembert. This is exactly what I was looking for. Also, (as if always the case), I had a few blueberries left over – not enough to be a main ingredient, but certainly enough to use in something I had never previously thought of or tried- a salad dressing. Finally, I was really keen to try and griddle pears with a difference – what better than brandy. Then flambée them? Anyhow, the below is what I came up with. Should you try to make it for yourself, I would love to hear your feedback on Love the kitchen.
Flambéed Pear, Blue Camembert and Walnut Salad.
- 1 x firm pear, Conference works well, cored and cut vertically into eights
- small knob salted butter
- 1 x shot brandy
- 1 x bag watercress salad
- 1 x chicory, thinly sliced vertically
- 1 x small red onion, sliced into fine wedges
- 1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- blue Camembert cheese, cut into 2cm rectangle slices
- walnut halves
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- handful fresh basil leaves
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 x heaped tbsp blueberries, finely chopped
- 1 x tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 x tbsp olive oil
- basil leaves and a kumquat to garnish
- First, heat up a griddle or frying pan on a medium heat and melt the butter. As it starts to bubble, add the pear wedges and cook for a couple of minutes, the turn over so that the underside is evenly cooked. The add brandy. Optionally, you can carefully ignite the brandy, remove form head and allow the flames to die down.
- Next, add the chopped blueberries in a small bowl or ramekin, and cover with the balsamic vinegar. Gently mash up the blueberries with the back of a spoon so that some of the flavours are absorbed by the vinegar. Add the olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, then set aside.
- Next, salad assembly begins. Feel free to let your imagination run wild (I wanted to try and get some sense of symmetry with the ingredients). Layer the watercress at the bottom of a large bowl, then scatter the red onion, chicory, and fennel on top.
- Evenly distribute the cheese slices so that they were laid down horizontally, and placed a walnut half on top.
- Sprinkle the loose blueberries over the top of the salad.
- Arrange the basil leaves and kumquat garnish in the centre of the dish.
- Finally, just before serving, drizzle the chopped blueberry, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil dressing on top.