Sweet pear and apple salad with bitter chicory and a creamy blue cheese dressing
Jamie at Home
Since Jamie Oliver established his family in Essex, his stove finds it must compete with the garden for attention. Oliver’s dual love of gardening and cooking comes together in this collection, organized by season, featuring recipes built on available produce. Each section ends with advice for producing seasonal crops: courgettes (zucchini), potatoes, broad beans… Homemade ketchup with steak and chips, smashed peas and broad beans on toast, and plum Bakewell tart offer a hint of the fresh pleasures in the 100 new recipes. Colour photos. Hardcover, 407 pp, $59.95.
This is an adaptation of an old-school French chicory salad. Chicory, also known as Belgian endive, is quite a bitter leaf, and to contrast the bitterness I've used the sweetness of the fruit, the twang of the vinegar and the creamy silkiness of the cheese. I think it's important to make this with good-quality apples and blue cheese.
4 heads of chicory (a mixture of red and white if possible)
2 good eating apples
a handful of fresh soft herbs (chervil, tarragon, parsley - use any one, or a mixture), torn or roughly chopped
For the blue cheese dressing
50g strong blue cheese
50g creme fraiche
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons water
Separate the leaves from the chicory, then wash and spin them dry. Core your apples and slice them into matchsticks. Core the pears, slice into eighths and if they're a little under ripe, grill them in a screaming hot griddle pan until lightly charred. If they're perfectly ripe, just place in a large bowl with the chicory, apple and most of the herbs.
To make your dressing, place al your dressing ingredients into a liquidizer and blend for just 15 seconds until smooth. Taste to make sure you've got a little extra acidity in there to cut through the bitterness of the leaves, and season if necessary. Pour three-quarters of the dressing over the salad and toss - I usually dress the salad lightly using the tips of my fingers. Divide them between four plates, and finish with a little extra dressing, the remaining herbs and a little extra virgin olive oil. Lovely with some walnuts crumbled over.
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