Pear and blue cheese is one of those classic combinations that just work. This salad takes that idea and gives it a bit more grunt – layering on a few more flavours and textures. This is a lovely autumnal meal, perhaps following on from a light vegetable broth and then finished with a warm fruit tart with crème fraîche.
Turn the oven down to 170°C, gas 3½, and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Mix the almonds with the remaining oil, Sichuan pepper, half the caster sugar and a little salt.
Make the dressing by placing the reserved onion juices in a small pan with the Gorgonzola and warming gently, stirring as you do so, to melt the cheese into the dressing, keeping it barely warm.
Preheat the grill. Cut the pears into slices about 1 cm thick, cutting out the seeds with a sharp knife, and lay on a lightly oiled foil-lined tray. Place under the grill and cook to caramelize, then turn the pear slices over, sprinkle the remaining sugar over them and cook to really caramelize them. Remove from the grill.
Divide half the pear pieces between 4 plates, then sit the mâche on top. Lay the remaining pears on top of this, scatter over the almonds and onions, then pour the dressing over.
© 2005 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.