We were overdue for a home-cooked meal in general, a healthy one in particular and, I thought, another go at the Community cookbook. Once I saw the recipe for roasted pear (in season!) and gorgonzola (delicious year-round!) salad I didn't look any further.
A look in the cupboard and the shops took me a little off recipe. I added a whole head of cauliflower to the recipe for some extra golden-edged substance. Most of the pears in our neighbourhood were rock-hard and not ready for dinner, but Michael found a few nashi pears at Pachamama that were worth a shot. The white wine (not white balsamic) vinegar and black lentils in the pantry would surely do the job. Sage leaves were plentiful but didn't fry to a crisp as they were supposed to.
The ingredient proportions didn't quite add up (too, too many lentils and not quite enough dressing) but it was easy to portion out our own plates and make plans for the leftovers later. The salad was everything I had anticipated - layers of savoury, earthy green and brown with episodes of pungency and sweetness.
Roasted pear & gorgonzola salad
(adapted from a recipe in Hetty McKinnon's Community)
250g lentils (we used black but puy or green might be better)
1 head cauliflower
~1 kg pears (McKinnon suggests 6 Packhams, we used about 8 nashi pears)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 cup sage leaves
2 cups rocket leaves
salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 200°C.
Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring them to the boil, then simmer them until tender (this can take 15-40 minutes depending on the type).
Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and place them in a baking tray. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle over salt and pepper. Bake the cauliflower until tender, and golden around the edges, about 25 minutes.
While the cauliflower is baking, slice the pear into 4-8 pieces each and remove the cores. Place the pear wedges in a baking tray. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar and sugar. Bake the pears until cooked through but still holding their shape, about 20 minutes.
Melt the butter in a frying pan until it's frothing and add the sage leaves. Fry the leaves until they're crispy, then turn off the heat.
Now it's time to assemble everything! Layer up the rocket, cauliflower and pears (including the pears' roasting juices). Drain the lentils and spoon them over the top. Crumble over the gorgonzola and sprinkle on the sage leaves (and any still-melted butter in the pan).