Rocket, roast pear and blue cheese salad

Spring is finally here.  English rocket and watercress are now in the shops, and are delicious added to this recipe from the Spring section of my latest book  Simply Veg: A Modern Guide to Everyday Eating (see Books page).

British-grown pears, such as Doyenne du Comice, Concorde and Conference, store well through the winter months and taste lovely in the spring, if left to ripen in the kitchen. Serve as a starter or in place of a cheese course.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons walnut oil + extra for oiling

170g/6oz ripe creamy British blue cheese, such as Stichelton

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ripe pears

2   tablespoons lemon juice

55g/2oz rocket leaves

55g/2oz red beet leaves

55g/2oz walnut kernels


1  Preheat the oven to fan 200C/gas 7.  Lightly oil a small baking dish with the walnut oil.  Remove the rind from the cheese and place in a bowl.  Mash vigorously and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. 


2  Peel the first pear.  Cut in half lengthways and, using a small sharp knife, cut out the core and seeds from each half so you have a neat cavity, removing the calyx and, if wished, the stem as you do so.  Place 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a small bowl, and toss the pear prepared pear halves in the juice.  Repeat with the remaining pears.


3  Arrange the pear halves in the baking dish, cut-side up, and stuff their cavities with the mashed cheese.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pears are lightly cooked and covered in bubbling cheese. 


Place the salad leaves and walnut kernels in a mixing bowl.  Once the pears are ready, add   tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons walnut oil and season to taste.



5  Divide the cooked pears between 4 plates.  Add an airy pile of salad to each plate and serve immediately.


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