Crispy Goat’s Cheese, Pear & Walnut Salad

10:39 pm on 19 October 2009

In France, I discovered the chèvre chaud salad, which seemed to be on just about every café menu in Provence. Hot cheese might be a bit retro, but it is so delicious I felt obliged to try as many versions as I could to see if I could find the best, and to make sure I could replicate it faithfully. After exhaustive efforts I think I have it sussed now, so here you go: try this as a gorgeous starter or a lunch dish on its own. Goes really well with a pinot gris.

(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watercress or rocket leaves
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 2 sheets filo pastry
  • canola oil spray
  • 200g soft goat’s cheese

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Photo: James Ensing-Trussell, Topic Photography

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a screw-topped jar or similar and shake well. Set aside.

Divide the watercress, pear slices and walnuts between 4 small or 2 large plates.

Spray between the sheets of filo with some oil, then cut each sheet into 6 x 10cm squares. Slice the cheese into 12 even-sized pieces. Wrap each piece in a square of filo to form arty little triangles, or chunky squares like those in the photograph.

Place the filo-wrapped cheese on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or so – keep an eye on them so that the minute they’re golden brown, you’re there to take them out. Distribute the hot packages between the plates, then drizzle with the dressing.

Stephen Morris’s wine recommendations

Running with chef's suggested Earth's End 2008 Pinot Gris from Central Otago has all the nashi, peach and pear juice that we love over lunch. $18.

Or, if in doubt, the French choose a wine from the same region as the cheese - lots of goats' cheese in the Loire, so Sauvignon Blanc... The Wild Rock "Elevation" 2008 from Marlborough is mainly Sauvignon Blanc, but does have a splash of Riesling and Viognier too. These add weight and interest. Sauvignon Blanc but not as we know it. A very pleasant drink. $20.

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