Pear Roquefort Salad

by Michael on February 10, 2012 · 40 comments

Growing up we had a neighbour with a pear tree out back of the house. We’d play in the backyard, in and around all the pears that had fallen to the ground. Some in good shape. Most rotten and long forgotten. I didn’t think of picking up a few and eating them or taking them home. Asking my mom to make something with them. Not once.  If it were an apple tree, I would have taken a shirt full and asked for a crisp or pie. But it wasn’t.  So they littered the lawn and adorned the tree.

There’s something about pears, long since relegated to the background when discussing fruits and people’s favourites. Even with the varieties of pears available it still lacks the star power of apples or oranges, peaches and cherries. On down the list. As of recent, pears have become more popular. They stand out more to me now.  I notice them popping up in more recipes than ever before and other recipes being altered to include pears where once apples or other fruits were featured. A resurgence.  No longer just poached, they are great for baking and cooking and raw as an ingredient.

 

Growing up salads weren’t a big favourite of mine. Especially when I was young. My mom would chop up some iceberg lettuce and vegetables and toss with a favourite bottled dressing at the time. I’d eat it, but not always because I liked it. Certainly didn’t love it. Eat your salad, my mom would say. So I did. A small side plate of salad.  As time progressed I was introduced to other options. Caesar, cobb and spinach. I equally loved them. But I only had them from time to time. Those were special days though, the house salad reigned supreme. A daily basis. Regularly refusing mine.

Now that I’m married, W asks for a salad with dinner every night. Almost. I’ll be down in the kitchen making dinner when she asks. It’s a good idea if we have some salad with dinner, she says. Yes, both of us. She always wants to see some green on my plate. Sometimes I’ll skip and make just enough for her. Even though I know it’s smart if I have my share of greens and salad. I should more often. And she looks out for me. But it’s hard. I’m more focused on soups and mains and dessert. It takes a special salad to change that.

I know the importance of moderation. Self control. There are moments during the year when watching what you eat and choosing better options seems more important. It’s easy to forget and let go and choose the path with least resistance. Indulge. Dinner parties and birthdays and holidays and family gatherings. Rich, decadent foods. Loaded foods. Easy answer.

The winter holidays are a particular sticking point when saying no to extra plates or larger plates and passing on something is met with an offending eye. Just try it. It’s hard to say no. That leads us to the Superbowl, where everybody gathers around for an extended day of sport and commercials and we eat and eat all day long.  Nobody brings over bowls of fruit or plates of veggies. Nobody thinks about sides and salads. It’s meat and gravy and cheese and heavy sauces. The moment the day ends I feel the effects. I needed cleaner options. Better ones. Starting now.

Now that the big game ended days ago and there are no family holidays on the horizon, it feels like the perfect time to try to find some balance. Healthier choices and lighter fare . It was the ideal time to include more vegetables in my daily routine and enjoy salad. Really enjoy it. More often. So the day after the Superbowl I went to the kitchen to make this salad. The first day and first step. It has to start somewhere.

The combination of ingredients  in this salad works perfectly together. The pears, bitter apples and Roquefort, watercress and pistachios and creamy roquefort dressing. I sat down, already partially filled from the previous day and made this. It was light, refreshing, bursting with flavour and delicious. It was the salad I wish I had growing up. Or I did, and sadly forget. I might have just eaten more of them. The sauce was creamy yes, but still a far cry from the table of goods the day before. Or a lot of days. And it’s a point of reference moving forward.

We had this with some wine and then went for a drive to a spot outside our city where we could take pictures of the waterfront and a classic old church, stunning in its details and view. That and get some exercise, feel the slight chill against our skin and move. Just us. And after a few hours out enjoying the unseasonal weather and playing with our cameras, we came home.  A weekend now complete. The right path laid out in front of us. At least until the next big holiday.

You don’t win friends with salad. I heard that years ago and I laughed. It’s true.  If left with no other choices, they’ll always choose something else. Unless they have this salad. You definitely win friends with this.  How could you not?

From my kitchen to yours,

ML

 

Pear Roquefort Salad:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pears, thinly sliced (using a mandoline)
  • 1/2 apple, thinly sliced (using a mandoline)
  • 100 grams Roquefort, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup watercress leaves
  • 2 tbsp. pistachios, roughly chopped
  • sea salt and cracked fresh pepper, to taste
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 garlic, turned to paste
  • 1 cup Roquefort cheese
  • 2 cranks on the pepper grinder

Prep:

  1. Using a mandoline, thinly slice pears and half an apple. Place in a bowl of water with a few tablespoons of lemon juice to prevent browning and keep aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  3. For plating, stack the pear slices one atop of the other, with a couple apple slices added in. Dress with watercress leaves and chopped pistachios over top and along the sides and crumble Roquefort cheese over top. Lightly pour dressing over top and around the stacked pears. Season.
  4. Serves 2.

Leave a Comment

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Liren February 11, 2012 at 12:08 am

We are big believers in having a salad with every meal, too, and to start off on the right foot after the big game, I can not think of a finer salad than this! Just gorgeous, the images are lovely, and I bet the salad tasted even lovelier.

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Rosie @ Sweetapolita February 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

When I saw this I fell in love. To me, this is salad perfection, and I’m not kidding! Your photos are just stunning, and I just want to crawl right inside these images and just *be* where that salad is. Love this, and it’s in my top 3 faves of all of your posts, Mike!

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Michael February 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

Thanks Rosie!! It’s one of my favs as well. Happy you like it!

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Brian February 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

We do the same thing… A salad with every dinner. Especially during the colder months. It just feels so good to consume something fresh and green.

This salad is just marvelous… I rarely purchase pears, but I must try this!

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sippitysup February 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm

My mom used to make a similar salad when I was a kid. It seemed so exotic at the time. Hers was great but yours is waaaay prettier. GREG

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cooking rookie February 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm

The salad looks beautiful, love the presentation and the photo. I would not think about using garlic with pears and apples in the same recipe, but now I am intrigued. Have to try this one :-)

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Danielle February 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I never cared much for pears as a kid either until I discovered the joy of poaching them. Now I love baking and cooking with them, still not crazy about raw pears, because of the texture. I love the combination of fruit and watercress in this salad, but I’m not a fan of roquefort so do you think substituting it for a lighter cheese (chevre perhaps) would work?

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Michael February 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

You can substitute for another cheese but chevre is a bit too bland and light. Find a soft cheese you light that has some added flavour. Hope you enjoy!

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Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers February 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I find salads beautiful because of the colors and freshness of the ingredients. Your salad looks so delicate and too beautiful to eat. Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing.
P.S. Your FB follow me button is not working.

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Amrita February 12, 2012 at 2:26 am

I’m yet to learn the importance of moderation, I must admit…although I think this pear and Roquefort salad would be a good start! I’m almost tempted imagine a thin dusting of grated chocolate over it.

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Sue/the view from great island February 12, 2012 at 8:09 am

What a wonderful post! Your photos are stunning, and the salad is worthy of a black tie affair. I love how you’ve sliced and arranged the pears, and the Roquefort and micro-greens are so pretty. I’m pinning this!

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Chris February 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I never liked salads or pears when I was little, but now? I can’t get enough. Pears in a salad bring such a wonderful layer of flavor. This salad looks and sounds like an amazing keeper that will win the hearts of all who eat it. Can’t wait to try. Thanks!

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Zytka Maurion February 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm

My nearly New Year’s resolution: buy Roquefort! :)

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Sara{OneTribeGourmet} February 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Wow, what a gorgeous salad!Pears & Roquefort cheese is a perfect combination! Your photography is Amazing! I took a 10 month hiatus from my blog and I feel like I have forgotten everything about food photography!

Cheers,
Sara

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Alma February 13, 2012 at 2:08 am

What kind of pears did you use? My grocery store carries quite a number of different varieties.

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Michael February 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Bartlett. Any pears variety will work fine!

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 13, 2012 at 4:37 am

I’ve always been head over heals for the combination of roquefort and pears, and you’ve made this perfect pairing exceeding beautiful.

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Rodney W February 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’m inclined to agree with Danielle, pears are not typically my “go to fruit” but my goodness you make it look so inviting especially with the Roquefort (one of the worlds best cheeses!) I feel like I’m sitting there eating the salad with you.

Beautifully photographed, a true work of art. Very happy I stumbled upon you:-)

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Michael February 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Rodney! I’m happy you stumbled upon my little space as well.

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marla February 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Sweet, crunchy, savory, salty, creamy – all of ‘em right there in this gorgeous salad! I remember flipping out over this on Instagram. You have inspired many versions of pear salads since your share :)

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Kulsum at JourneyKitchen February 15, 2012 at 1:31 am

I have always loved salads and always had a side of greens with every meal! Gorgeous salad xo

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Anita February 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Making up my grocery list for this lovely salad. The one cup of roquefort cheese listed for the dressing is a differnt type than the roquefort used for crumbling? Or perhaps you melted it to make it easier to measure and whisk? Sorry for my cheese ignorance!

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Michael February 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Anita, use the same roquefort. If you want to melt it down, go right ahead. I just whisked it in until it had the consistency I wanted. Hope that helps!

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Anita February 17, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Michael, I dont want to mess with perfection. I’ll whisk away. Thank you helping the cheese challenged!

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Helene February 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

Pear salad to me is finesse. I like the way you styled the plate. What equipment do you shoot with? I really like your work Mike.

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Michael February 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thanks Helene. I use a D7000 with a 50mm f1.4 or 24/70

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sara February 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! This looks super delicious, so yummy! :)

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RecipeChase March 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I have just discovered your site. The pictures convey every bit of freshness of the salad. Very impressive photography.

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Charlotte York September 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm

What a wonderful dish! Tried making it once using your recipe but the next time I’d use a different sour cream, a bit lighter in texture and a bit less garlic. I would also start off with a dressing and then prepare the pears and apple!
Love the photos!

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Tiziana September 5, 2012 at 9:07 am

A very great idea for insalade!
I found your blog only today and I was enchanted!
Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos and recipes!
Hugs!
Titty

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Joanne - Inspired Taste January 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm

This salad looks wonderful! It gorgeous and combines my favorite flavors on one plate.

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BeesKnees July 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Hi – this salad looks AMAZING! Yum all round. I want to try, but not a big watercress fan. Any suggestions for a substitute? Spring greens?

Thanks so much.

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Michael July 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

You can use arugula. It’s also peppery so it would work well!

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