The soft shades of green are deceptively demure in the pear, fennel and parmesan salad. Don’t let her mislead you for under those harlequin frills she is a jezebel.
I first made this salad to go with a leek and goats cheese tart and it was a wonderful combination as the pear, fennel and parmesan salad has so much character and texture.
This salad, like the Beetroot, Pea and Feta Salad, is all about getting your flavours to balance, but this salad kicks it up a notch. Because the flavours are bolder in this salad, their counterparts have to be equally bold. Whereas the beetroot which is subtle earthy sweet was balanced against creamy salty feta and coy little peas, the boldly sweet pear is paired with punchy cheeses like parmesan or pecorino and crunchy audacious fennel.
When making a salad, I find that it is not only a balance of flavours like salty and sweet, but about their intensity. Two or three forthright flavours can go really well together or equally two or three subdued flavours can be just as amazing in their delicate nuances.
Pear, Fennel and Parmesan Salad
serves 2 as a light meal or 4 as a side, 10 minutes
1 large ripe but firm pear
1 fennel bulb
50 gms of rocket (arugula) or watercress
50 gms of parmesan, picante provolone or aged cheddar (any flavourful hard cheese would do)
a handful of walnuts
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
As flavour elements (like for the Beetroot, Pea and Feta Salad):
Sweet: pear and fennel
Salty: parmesan and good quality sea salt
Peppery: rocket, walnuts and freshly cracked pepper
To bring it all together: good quality olive oil
Slice the fennel fairly thinly, ensuring it is still thick enough that the fennel will be crunchy and of substance in the mouth.
Slice your pear in quarters, core and then slice each quarter into 4 or 5 wedges of the same thickness as the fennel. Slice your cheese very thinly so it is little shavings of cheese that will disperse throughout the salad and bring little bursts of saltiness to each mouthful.
Arrange the salad by making a bed of rocket leaves upon which the fennel and then the pear will lie.
Arrange the fennel and pear on the rocket so there is a nice thin layer of each. This helps get a little of each flavour into every mouthful.
Top with the cheese, crumbled walnuts, a sprinkle of salt (if necessary, your cheese may be enough), some pepper, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a few splashes of olive oil.
For vegan, leave out the cheese, but watch your flavour balance, you may need a little more salt.
I love this salad – so balanced and tasty!
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