Boston Lettuce, Fennel, Pears, Roquefort & Walnuts Salad-Winter

Boston Lettuce, Fennel, Pear, Radish, Roquefort & Walnut Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
The earthy walnut vinaigrette is pairs perfectly with the crisp winter vegetables and fruit is a refreshing start to an elegant dinner.

Serves 6

2 heads Boston lettuce or other lettuce
1/2 medium fennel bulb
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 teaspoons roasted walnut oil
2 Bosc pears
2 radishes
2 ounces Roquefort cheese crumbled or other blue cheese
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe walnut vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Prepare the vinaigrette (see recipe).

Separate the leaves from the head of lettuce leaving them whole. Wash and dry the lettuce using a salad spinner. Gently roll the washed greens in a kitchen towel and refrigerate until 20 minutes prior to serving.

Cut the stalks off the bulb and save some of the feathery leaves for the vinaigrette. Cut the fennel in half from top to bottom with the grain and cut out the hard core at the base. Shave the half of the fennel bulb across the grain into thin slices using a mandolin or a knife. In a medium bowl toss the fennel in 1 teaspoon of the vinaigrette.

Heat the oven to 325˚F. Toast walnuts on a cookie sheet for 5-6 minutes. While still hot drizzle in the walnut oil and a pinch of salt and toss well.

Slice the radishes thinly on a mandoline or use a vegetable peeler.

Peel and core the pear. (I like to use a melon baller to remove the core). Slice the pear lengthwise in 1/8-inch slices. Brown under the broiler or on a grill pan. When cool toss the pear slices in 1 teaspoon of the vinaigrette.

Place 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette in a salad bowl top with the lettuce leaves gently toss the lettuce. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 1 more tablespoon of the vinaigrette if needed and toss. The salad should be lightly dressed; not swimming in the vinaigrette.

Arrange the lettuce on salad plates. Then top with the sliced pear, fennel, radishes, walnuts, and Roquefort on top of the lettuce. Serve immediately.

Once you’ve made this vinaigrette you can adjust the vinegar and lemon juice to make it as sour as you like. For the freshest flavor make your salad dressing every other day.
Makes +1/2 cup

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup roasted walnut oil*
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fennel fronds

Mix vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, Dijon, sea salt and pepper. Mix until the salt is dissolved. Add oil in a steady stream while whisking then and fennel fronds, mix well. Keep in a covered container until ready to use.

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Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie