Yes, I know, this is a terrible photo. The rainbow assault from the colours in the table cloth completely overwhelms the food, which is supposed to be the star. The lines on the cloth are so skew that you’re probably clawing at your screen trying to straighten them. The proportions are wrong. It looks like a unicorn exploded all over the place. You can hardly tell what you’re eating. It’s just bad. But I need cheering up today and something about this photo is immensely cheering to me. And so is this salad (as are all salads that fatten you up faster than a jelly doughnut). The combination of the creamy Gorgonzola, the warm, salty bacon on the cool, crisp lettuce and the sweet, sharp dressing is so simple, but really, really delicious. It hits all the spots. Or at least, it hits all my spots. I was really happy with how the dressing came out – proof once again that pretty much everything on this planet tastes better with a dollop of mayo.
Bacon & Blue Cheese Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
5 firm pears - cored, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
2 tablespoons butter
3 heaped tablespoons honey
125ml walnuts, chopped
125ml Port (Hanepoot or Jerepico will also get the job done, but the Port makes it really pretty)
125g or more of any blue veined cheese
Melba toast or crackers for serving or puff pastry if you have the energy
In a saucepan, heat the butter over a moderately high heat. Add the pears and honey and fry until golden and sticky. Add the Port and boil until reduced to a syrup. Add the walnuts, heat through and allow to cool. Once at room temperature, crumble in the blue cheese and stir until just combined. Now you can do one of three things. Four if you count munching the whole lot straight from the pan before it can even get to the table.
Serve at room temperature with melba toast or crackers.
Warm in a 180˚C oven until the cheese just starts to melt and serve with melba toast or crackers.
Or, my personal favourite, cut puff pastry into squares (roughly – and I say roughly because I never seem to be able to cut two squares to the same size – 5 x 5cm squares). Score the pastry square all the way around about 5mm from the edge. This is so that the edge will puff up and contain the filling when baking, so don’t be tempted to skip this step. The time you save skipping this will be spent trying to scrub the burnt filling off your prized oven pan. Spoon teaspoons full of the mix onto the squares and bake at 200˚C until golden (around 20 minutes). When you do it this way the pear mixture goes all caramel and gooey on the edges. Very moreish!