This is a simple salad from Delahunt restaurant in Dublin, with a few 'cheffy' touches. Pear, walnut and blue cheese work perfectly together. The chicory adds a bitter note that offsets the sweetness of the pear and the sharp saltiness of the cheese. Not all of the elements are essential, but together they take the dish to another level. For a pared down version, place some fresh pear, chopped celery, toasted walnuts, blue cheese and chicory in a large bowl. Season and dress with the walnut vinaigrette.
- 2 Comice pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 sticks celery, peeled, chopped and blanched for 2 minutes
- 90g biscotti, broken and toasted in oven for 4 minutes
- 2 red chicory, root removed and broken into individual leaves
- 150g Crozier blue cheese, crumbled
For the pickled walnuts
- 100g walnuts
- 50ml water
- 200g white wine or white balsamic vinegar
- 50g brown sugar
- 5g salt
For the walnut vinaigrette
- 40g white balsamic vinegar
- 20g Cabernet Sauvignon or red wine vinegar
- 10g Dijon mustard
- 10g liquor from a jar of pickled walnuts, optional
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch sugar
- 75g grape seed oil
- 75g walnut oil
For the chicory and port purée
- 500ml water
- 2 white chicory, halved
- Salt and black pepper
- 50g caster sugar
- 100ml red port
- 30ml red wine vinegar
- 75ml beetroot juice
- For the pickled walnuts, place the walnuts in a clean sterilised jar. Put the remaining ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour on top of the walnuts and allow to cool. Seal the jar and place in the fridge. The pickle will keep for at least a month. The liquor can be used to make your vinaigrette.
- To make the vinaigrette, place the vinegars, mustard and walnut liquor in a tall container with a pinch of sugar and salt. Using a hand blender, slowly blitz in the oils until fully incorporated. Place in a clean container and store in the fridge. It’ll keep for up to a week.
- For the purée, bring the water to a simmer in a casserole dish. Add the chicory, season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to the barest simmer and poach for 30 minutes. Once wilted, remove and drain. Try to squeeze as much moisture out of the chicory as possible. Meanwhile in a separate pot, reduce the sugar, port, and vinegar and beetroot juice down to a sticky glaze. Place the chicory and the reduction in a blender and blitz on full power. Season, pass through a sieve and chill.
- To assemble the salad, place the chicory in a bowl, season and dress with the vinaigrette. Arrange four pieces of pear on each plate, followed by the celery, pickled walnuts, blue cheese and biscotti croutons. Place a few dots of the chicory purée around the dish. Finish with the chicory and sliced pear. Drizzle with a little more vinaigrette and sprinkle with some sea salt. Perfect with a cold glass of good quality Perry.
TIP: At the restaurant we take fresh pears, peel, and core and quarter them, place in bag with some pear cider and vacuum seal. You could achieve a similar effect at home by using tinned pears. Simply rain and chop the pears. Place in a container and cover with cider. Allow to marinate overnight
Recipe credit: Delahunt
Photography credit: Harry Weir