This Pear, Blue Cheese & Watercress Salad is my favorite sweet little starter salad. Actually, my mouth is watering as I write this, thinking about the sweet pear juices with the salty buttery cheese and peppery watercress. If you are having an elegant dinner party, where you are plating each course, this is the perfect little plate to begin your feast. The salt and pepper on the pears is really an interesting flavor combination, and the lemon juice and blue cheese get your taste buds singing in anticipation for the dishes to follow.
If you can find Comice pears, definitely use them in this recipe. Bartlett will work, but in my opinion, Comice is the Queen of Pears. They’re juicy and sweet, and seem to melt in your mouth. Pears are never allowed to ripen on the tree, so be sure to buy them unripe, take them home and put them in a paper bag for a few days. Pears ripen from the core outward, so if the outside is soft, it is already too ripe and should only be used in cooking and baking. To test for ripeness, press the flesh near the stem and if it yields slightly, it’s ready.
Pear, Blue Cheese & Watercress Salad
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 ripe Comice or Bartlett pears
1 bunch of watercress, large stems removed, washed and dried
4 ounces blue cheese, such as Maytag or Stilton, crumbled
1. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice into the olive oil until emulsified. Whisk in the salt and pepper.
2. Peel, halve and core the pears, then slice lengthwise ½ inch thick. Fold the pears into the dressing and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. Add the watercress to the pears, toss well and arrange on 4 plates.
4. Sprinkled the crumbled blue cheese over salad. Serve.