Wednesday, October 14, 2009
My salad days are numbered, in more ways than one.
We are about to sink into months of soup weather, but today – all blue skies and crisp, golden light – has been a reprieve of sorts. As I went on my early morning walk, the rosy leaves put me in mind of red pears – and that reminded me, in turn, of one of my favorite quick salads for this time of year.
Because I work from home, lunch tends to be a solitary and no-nonsense affair. I want to be able to throw something together quickly, but I still want to eat something delicious. (I don’t like to skimp on meals, and by that I mean quantity and quality.) If I’m lucky, I have better-the-next-day leftovers that can be heated up in a minute or two. But if all of the Tupperware is bare, I’d rather spend five minutes composing a salad than being bored by a sandwich.
All you need, really, is four good ingredients:
A ripe pear.
Some creamy blue cheese. (I like dolcelatte, which I happen to have leftover from a dinner party.)
A handful of toasted walnuts.
And mixed salad leaves.
Five minutes is really all it takes (says the person who timed herself just to make sure).
First, toast your walnuts in a small skillet over low heat. Keep one eye on them, as you use your other eye to slice up your pear. Spread a bed of lettuce on your plate, and distribute little gobbets of blue cheese evenly – using a spoon or a knife, depending on your preference. As your walnuts cool, arrange the pear. Then drizzle a good extra-virgin olive oil over the whole. I like to also drizzle a balsamic glaze over my salad – this is just reduced balsamic vinegar, and you can buy it at good grocery stores – but a dash of balsamic vinegar will suffice. Finally, arrange the walnuts on the top, give it a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and serve (with the best bits of the Sunday newspaper, if you are anything like me).