Thursday, September 13, 2012

Zoe's Blue cheese, honey and walnut salad

I love blue cheese.  I'm actually surprised that I only have one other recipe that involves blue cheese on this blog so far, and I assure you that I will make every effort to include more!

I have memories of tasting it for the first time many many moons ago, at a large family gathering (possibly Christmas or one of my many cousins' birthdays), the cheese platter would be presented and there would be all manners of cheesy goodness.  I remember one of my uncles explaining to me that the blue green veins were mould, and that the white velvety covering on a piece of brie was also mould.  It grossed me out, but also totally fascinated me that we would deliberately eat it!  So naturally, I tasted it, and that is where the love affair started!

My love for the blue veined cheeses grew when i discovered certain combinations of flavours.  My first love was blue cheese and cured meat - Salami and Parma ham in particular.  Then came blue cheese with walnuts! then came blue cheese with pears! and then finally, and i must say it was one of those epiphany moments, came the discovery (thanks to Warren, chef at Barracuda restaurant) of the foodgasm that is blue cheese and honey.

Blue cheese is one of those cheeses that I cannot NOT like.  I can not be in the mood for it, but I have loved every single type of blue cheese that has entered my mouth, whether it be pasteurised, cave ripened, sheeps, goats, cow's, speciality, cheapo grocery bought cheese.  I have almost as much love for cheap Danish blue than I have for an unpasteurised speciality Roquefort or a pot ripened Stilton soaked in port.  YUM!

I guess I've been somewhat of a foodie since I was weaned, and one of the main reasons was CHEESE!  I love cheese so much!  My (food) highlight of every family gathering is the cheese platter after dinner, sitting there sipping wine, nibbling on cheese and having the inevitable lively discussion, whether it be politics, religion, or some topic that will raise a few voices and possibly end in someone sulking :P (i adore the fact that we can do this and still have so much love for each other).

ANWAY, I am lucky to have found fellow foodie friends, amongst them my lovely half-Maltese, half-French friend Zoe :)  We bonded over how much we have in common all those years ago, and cemented it with cheese.  We are both obsessed with cheese!  It's so tasty! so delicious, and we have spent many a nights just having one more piece of cheese to finish the wine, or one more glass of wine to finish the cheese, repeat ad nauseum and/or drunken food coma :)

This salad is her creation!  Blue cheese, walnuts, prosciutto crudo, pears, dressed with  honey, served with masses of fresh baby salad leaves... perfection!  All these ingredients go so well with each other, it's only natural that we would bring them all together into one of my favourite salads on this planet!

Sorry about the bad quality camera pic! 

Blue Cheese, Walnut and Honey salad with Pears and Prosciutto crudo


100-150grams mixed salad leaves, washed and dried
100 grams tangy blue cheese (gorgonzola, roquefort, or plain ole Danish blue)
Shelled Walnuts - around 2 handfuls, crushed lightly by hand or chopped roughly
2 normal sized pears or 5 mini pears, or about 8 "bambinella" pears. (I used the miniture pears, not quite bambinella/paradise pears, but not the normal pear size either)
Extra Virgin Olive oil (2 tablespoons) (I used Liquid Gold)
Apple Cider Vinegar (1 tablespoon)
runny raw Honey (2 generous teaspoons)
Salt and pepper
Prosciutto crudo - either Parma, Dan Daniele or even speck - around 70 grams, sliced super thin (optional)

Get a large salad bowl out.  measure out the olive oil, vinegar and honey and throw them into the bowl.  whisk lightly with a fork until they are emulsified and cover the bottom of the bowl generously.  Add an extra dash of honey and/oil if you think it needs it.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Chop the pears into slices or quarters, depending on the size.  remove the core and stem.
Chop/crumble the blue cheese, and tear the proscuitto into generous pieces.

Place the leaves into the salad bowl and toss until they are completely dressed.

Arrange the pears on top of the leaves, and the prosciutto if using.
Crumble the blue cheese on top, and add the walnuts (crushed lightly so that they are still chunky but not whole)

Drizzle the tiniest amount of olive oil and honey over the salad and season very lightly with pepper, and serve!

N.B. If i was serving this as a side, I'd omit the prosciutto. I served this as a main so included it.

ENJOY!!! :)

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