Sweet Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Rocket, Watercress, Walnuts, and orange-Flower Honey

This salad first appeared in Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (1986) cookbook and became an instant hit in my restaurants because the intense flavor of the pears is concentrated by long and slow heating.

If you can find Zante or Champagne grapes, they are the perfect garnish for this dish, but Concords would not be bad either.

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe Comice pears, prepared as for oven-roasted fruits
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup walnut oil
  • 1 bunch watercress, washed, spin-dried, stemmed
  • 1 bunch rocket, washed, spin-dried, stemmed
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ pound Gorgonzola, rind removed, crumbled
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower honey
  • ½ cup edible flowers, such as sage, rocket blossoms, rose petals or nasturtiums
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper

Method

When the pears are cool enough to handle, remove the cores and slice them crosswise in -inch sections.

Put the lemon juice in a salad bowl with salt and pepper and mix to dissolve the salt, then whisk in the oil. Arrange the slices of pears one pear per plate, in one layer in the center of the plate, leaving a 3-inch gap in the center for the watercress and rocket. Scatter the cheese and then the walnuts over the pears, and then drizzle the honey on top of the walnuts and cheese.

Put the watercress, rocket, and basil in the salad bowl and toss together. Then place the salad in the center of the pears.

Garnish with the flowers.

Variation

I like to make this salad with ripe white peaches and rose peppercorns sprinkled over the peaches and cheese.

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