Spiced pears with beenleigh blue cheese and salted walnut salad

Blue cheese, walnuts and spiced pears create a winning savoury-sweet combination in this simple, stylish salad from Tamasin Day-Lewis
By Tamasin Day-Lewis
Spiced pears with beenleigh blue cheese and salted walnut salad
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the pears

  • 1 red chilli
  • sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 lemons, rind and juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 500 ml marsala
  • 450 g unrefined caster sugar
  • 6 ripe Conference pears

For the filling

  • 225 g Beenleigh blue cheese
  • 110 g best cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the salad and topping

  • 6 handfuls watercress
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 20 g butter
  • 110 g walnut halves
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or sugar
  • flakes sea salt

Method

1. Cur the chillies in half and remove the seeds.

2. Put the chillies, herbs, spices, lemon juice and rind, honey, Marsala and sugar together in a pan just large enough to hold the pears as well and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on, and rub lemon juice over the flesh so they don't discolour. Put the pears in the pan and add a little water to just cover if you need to. Bring back to the boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through when pierced with a skewer.

4. Leave the pears to cool, then cut them in half and remove the cores.

5. Mix the Beenleigh Blue and cream cheese together in a bowl with a fork. Stir in the spring onions and herbs and season. Spoon the mixture into the cavities of the pears.

6. Divide the watercress between 6 plates. Top with the pears.

7. Mix the olive oil and balsamic together to make the dressing.

8. Melt the butter in a saucepan and when it is foaming, throw in the walnuts.

9. Add the maple syrup or sugar and stir until well coated. Cook the walnuts until they are hot but not browned and add enough salt flakes to give them a deliciously buttery sweet/salty flavour.

10. Scatter the walnuts over the salads while still warm. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

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