Delicious on their own, pears are also a wonderful ingredient in recipes from sweet-tart salads to sweeter-than-sweet pies and tarts. They’re great partnered with blue cheese — Kerrygold’s Cashel Blue preferred — and a glass of wine or port, but one of my favorite ways to eat them is by featuring them in a salad. (It involves poaching a pear so there’s a little more prep time.) For a faster salad, you can simply slice a whole pear and crumble or cube the cheese on top. You’ll find pear recipes like this and others in my newest cookbook, “Favorite Flavors of Ireland.” Order signed copies, with free shipping until October 31, at www.irishcook.com. (Here's my recipe for Pear and Almond Pie, in Perfect Pears, Part 1.)
POACHED PEAR AND CASHEL BLUE SALAD
A whole poached pear tops this salad made with Cashel Blue cheese and toasted walnuts. The recipe was inspired by one served at The Bishop’s Buttery in Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, County Tipperary.
1 (750 ml) bottle sweet white wine, such as Riesling
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 medium ripe pears, peeled, stalks left on
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
1 (10 ounce) mixed salad greens
1 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese
4 ounces toasted walnuts
1. Make pears. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring wine, water, sugar, vanilla pod, and seeds to boil. Add pears, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove pears and stand them upright on a plate. Let cool completely; refrigerate.
2. Make salad. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in oil and tarragon (if using). Toss greens with dressing and divide among four salad plates. Place a pear in center of salad greens and sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts around it.