This is just a salad – but what a salad!
I am debating if I have ever eaten anything as good as this in almost any food category. No kidding. It’s very filling and half a large Bosc pear and a large avocado makes enough to feed four, at least.
I decided to use skinless tomatoes as a plate decoration, sliced to make “roses”. But it is the dressing that is to die for. It is almost sweet in an odd way, and the combination of tastes is just wicked good. Definitely needs the lemon juice, a little extra salt (I’m not normally a big salt user) and fresh ground black pepper.
I elected to use Dijon mustard in the dressing. You can use quantities mixed however you like, including your favourite oil (must use), white Balsamic vinegar, measured in whatever suits your taste buds, the Dijon, salt, cracked black pepper, lemon juice (fresh squeezed only) to taste (check the mixture as you prepare it). I decided not to use thyme in this dressing but debated about it. But sprigs of fresh basil add to the beauty of the plate at the very end, just before serving.
Drizzle over the sliced (lengthwise) Bosc pears (peeled) and the avocado protected with lemon juice – both sliced quite thick, maybe 1/4″.
The roasted walnuts are not necessary but an added bonus. Spread walnut halves on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler just briefly. Watch closely. You don’t want them to burn. Remove and while they are still warm, drizzle the walnuts with real maple syrup and sprinkle with salt. It’s important to do that immediately. Let it rest in the open air until the salad is ready. Add it to the salad just before presenting at the table.
I used my most recent cheese-find, Raspberry cheese, but likely a really good freshly sliced Parmesan would be fine. This raspberry cheese is sort of a cross between white cheddar and Gouda. The package says it is “firm, ripened cheese; nutty and creamy, marinated in handcrafted raspberry ale.” I could eat the whole block. Had a sample at the Italian pasta shop and I was completely hooked. It tastes sweet with a little salty aftertaste; crumbles a bit but can be sliced using the Dutch kaasschaaf (or a potato peeler).
This cheese is also a great late-night snack with Paris toasts (a sort of Melba toast).
If you want to make a real meal out this, add some prosciutto, sliced extremely thin, served alongside, twisted with the tomato roses, set among tufts of fresh basil. I’m thinking for summer, this would be wonderful served with freshly poached salmon (I’d douse the salmon just before serving with a little of the dressing). Perhaps even pan-seared scallops, if you like seafood. I don’t think I’d do shrimps or crab with this dish, though.
Add to the eye candy by serving on beautiful black plates. Use just a tiny bit of the dressing on the plates and serve the remaining dressing on the side so people can add more if they wish. Position the pear and avocado slices in a circle around the plate.
I’m not a connoisseur of good beer, but for those who enjoy, it might go well with this salad. I think you will find that those who don’t find pears among their favourite foods will fall in love with this recipe in spite of any reservations. The Bosc pears are very firm.
I can’t get over how filling this food is, how absolutely simple and quick it is to prepare, and as long as you use lots of fresh-squeezed lemon on the avocado, the salad will sit covered on the counter for hours and not discolour. I also discovered a use for the leftover dressing: marinate sole pieces just for a few minutes, then pan-fry in butter, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and a little bit of salt, and then squeeze fresh lemon on the sole as you serve it. Another yum!
The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen” additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.