Something light and luscious that crosses the seasons – we've still got pears down under, but fast disappearing (pardon the pun), and they will be around in colder climes, too. This is great before a gargantuan feast!
It’s best to use pears that are just ripe for this salad. To speed up ripening, put them in a brown paper bag with a banana. It will give off ethylene gas which will help ripen them.
16 thin slices French bread
Olive oil and sea salt
1 small cos (romaine) lettuce, broken into leaves
2 cups small salad leaves
4 perfectly ripe pears, packham or beurre bosc
Half a lemon
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp creamy Dijonnaise mustard
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed to a puree
¼ tsp Tabasco sauce
2 Tbsp tangelo or orange juice
½ cup small mint leaves
Small piece pecorino cheese (or use parmesan)
1 Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Brush slices of French bread with olive oil and put them on a baking tray (sheet). Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for about 7 minutes, or until golden.
2 Wash and dry salad leaves and keep refrigerated in a plastic bag until ready to serve.
3 Slice pears thinly – this is easily done on a mandoline (and some food processors such as KitchenAid will accommodate pears for slicing) or slice with a very sharp knife. Transfer pears to a bowl of icy water acidulated with a few squirts of lemon juice.
4 In a small bowl whisk oil, salt, mustard, garlic and Tabasco sauce. Whisk in tangelo or orange juice. Chop mint finely and add.
5 Arrange a few cos and salad leaves on each of 4 plates and spoon a little dressing over the top. Drain pears on paper towels and stack on top of salad leaves, adding a few extra leaves here and there. Drizzle with more dressing. Shave pecorino over the top and drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve immediately with toasts.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com