Chicory, pickled pear, Gorgonzola and walnuts
Chicory, pickled pear, Gorgonzola and walnutsSubscribe to Sainsbury's magazine
For the pickled pears:
- 500ml white wine vinegar
- 300g caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove
- 3 under-ripe pears
For the caramelised walnuts:
- 50g sugar
- 50g walnut pieces
- 1 tsp smoked salt (or normal salt)
- about 85g Gorgonzola cheese, or vegetarian alternative
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
- 2-3 heads of chicory (half per person)
Make the pickled pears up to a year ahead. Make the caramelised walnuts up to a week ahead. Prepare everything up to the end of step 3 a day ahead.
To make the pickled pears, put the vinegar, sugar and spices in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Peel the pears and drop into the water, then simmer gently for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Store in sterilised jars along with the pickling juice and spices.
To make the caramelised walnuts, start by rubbing a baking sheet with a little oil. Put the sugar in a frying pan over a medium heat and melt, shaking occasionally to redistribute the sugar, but not stirring. Once melted, continue cooking until the caramel is a dark whisky colour. Add the nuts and salt, and swirl to coat thoroughly, then tip the walnuts on to the oiled baking sheet and leave to cool completely. Break up any large walnut pieces with a rolling pin or roughly chop them, and store in an airtight container.
Crumble the Gorgonzola, cover and chill. Mix the vinegar and oil with a little salt and pepper, bung in a jar and into the fridge. Halve the chicory and rub the cut sides with olive oil. Get a griddle pan smoking hot and cook the chicory, cut-side down, until nicely coloured and a little softened. Cool, cover and chill.
For a less involved version, use slices of fresh ripe pear and chopped walnuts.
About 30 minutes before you want to serve, take the chicory, cheese and dressing out of the fridge. Cut the pickled pears into wedges. Put a piece of chicory on each plate, along with a piece of pear. Scatter the cheese and caramelised walnuts over the top and finish with the dressing.
This is all about the combination of sweet and sour, salt and bitterness. It's pretty straightforward and all the key components can be prepared in advance, but it's an absolute knockout. The pickled pears make a lovely present, so I thoroughly recommend making double