Salted Bosc Pear and Roquefort Salad with Toasted Walnut Relish

By Beacon Staff

When I lived in San Francisco a few years ago, one of my favorite restaurants, Boulevard, served this salad around the Christmas holiday, and I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of flavors.

Until you try it for yourself, it’s hard to imagine the unique combination of salty-savory bosc pears, Roquefort cheese and lolla rossa red leaf lettuce tossed with port vinaigrette and garnished with toasted walnut relish.

This salad would make a wonderful dish for late fall and winter special occasions, or would be a great comfort food during an intimate dinner near your fireplace at home this season.

The crunchy bosc pears are roasted in rock salt, a technique that transforms the pears, enhancing the fragrance and flavor and giving them a velvety texture.

Lolla rossa is my favorite red leaf lettuce.

Its crisp, ruffled leaves stay looking fresh even after adding the vinaigrette dressing.

This salad is too good just to write about – I’m going to make it for dinner this evening! Serves 4.

Walnut Relish

  • 1/2 cup whole walnuts
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole shallot minced
  • 3 tbsp. Italian parsley

Salt-Roasted Bosc Pears

  • 4 lbs. box rock salt
  • 2 firm bosc pears

Port Vinaigrette

  • 3 cups of ruby port
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
  • Ground black pepper/sea salt

Salad

  • 4 to 5 oz. of loosely lolla rossa leaves
  • 6 oz. Roquefort crumbled cheese

Preparation For the Walnut Relish:
Bring salted water to a boil, add walnuts and simmer for 3 minutes.

Drain and lay flat on baking pan (this removes the bitterness from the walnut).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and toast walnuts for 18 minutes until crisp and dry.

Allow walnuts to cool, then chop to pea size.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add minced shallots.

Cook until transparent (4 to 6 minutes), then add walnuts and parsley.

Remove from heat and let cool.

For the Pears:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add 1 inch layer of rock salt to the bottom of a casserole dish.

Lay the pears on their side and nestle into salt.

Sprinkle remainder of salt over the pears making sure the pears are buried in the salt.

Roast pears for approximately 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest 15 to 20 minutes.

The pears should easily be pieced with a wooden skewer.

Transfer to a plate and brush off excess salt.

Let cool to room temperature.

Once the pears have cooled, cut in half and with a melon ball scooper, remove the core.

Cut pears into wedges.

For the Ruby Port Vinaigrette:
Cook the port in a sauce pan over medium heat until reduced by half.

Let cool then whisk in the red wine vinegar.

And balsamic, slowly whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Serve:
Toss the lolla rossa lettuce with some of the dressing in a bowl, then place a mound on each dinner plate.

Sprinkle Roquefort cheese over the lettuce.

Add pear wedges and drizzle salad with dressing.

Top with walnut relish.

Chef’s Notes:
Lolla rossa lettuce is not easy to find in this area.

Oak leaf or plain red leaf lettuce can be substituted.

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