This is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite salads. What first attracted me to this recipe was the colour of the pears; I think they look amazing. So this was the salad I made when my mum and dad came for a fleeting visit, and they loved it. The ingredients are simple, flavoursome and marry together so well. The recipe is from Rachel Khoo’s, My Kitchen Notebook. In the original, she uses blue cheese which I like, but not everyone is a fan. My parents really enjoy goat’s cheese which works extremely well, so I used it in this version of the salad. I’ve also made it with feta which is also delicious. You don’t need to use a salad dressing as the pears are quite juicy and sharp. If you really wanted, you could drizzle a little of the pickling liquid over, but I don’t think it needs it. A nice addition to this is a handful of pan roasted walnuts or pecans sprinkled over the top.
Preparation time: 15 minutes, resting time: overnight, cooking time: 1 hour
250ml red wine vinegar 150g caster sugar
4 firm pears, peeled but with stems on
4 small beetroot, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
200g Puy lentils
100g cheese: choose from goat’s cheese, feta, gorgonzola or other blue cheese
1 handful of watercress
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt pinch and freshly ground pepper
- Put the water, vinegar and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the pears and beetroot. Cut a piece of baking paper/parchment larger than the diameter of the pan, crumple it up, and cut a hole or slit in the centre. Place in contact with the liquid and let some seep through to keep the paper in place. Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 1 hour.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the pears, beetroot, and all the liquid to a lidded container. Set aside until it cools to room temperature, then put in the refrigerator to pickle overnight.
- When ready to serve, cook the lentils following the package instructions, then drain.
- Transfer the pears to a cutting board and the beetroot to a bowl (discard the liquid or save it for up to 1 week for pickling something else).
- Toss the lentils with the beetroot, then crumble the cheese into small chunks and add to the bowl. Divide the mixture among four salad plates.
- Cut each pear in half and place them on the serving plate, with a little watercress.
- Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.