Jude Blereau's Green Lentils, Caramelised Pear and Pedro Xim?nez Salad
A blog post from one of my favourites, The Yellow House by Sarah Searle, discussed the phenomenon of what she calls ?The Wedding Salad?: basically greens, sweet fruit (usually dried cherries or cranberries), nuts, a dressing and perhaps some goat's cheese or feta, which you would usually find a version of at a wedding. You don't need a million recipes - it's a basic format. Here is my version, and honestly, it is delicious.
Gluten-free | dairy-free | vegan | egg-free
Serves 4 as a light meal
2 pears (I like the sturdy Beurr? Bosc variety)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
60ml Pedro Xim?nez 12 month-old sherry vinegar
2 tbsp Pedro Xim?nez sherry
50g rocket leaves or mustard greens (or both, as I've used here)
1 quantity cooked French green lentils, drained (try ready to cook green lentils)
40-75g hazelnuts, roasted, skins rubbed off, roughly chopped
hazelnut oil for drizzling, optional
Cut the pears into eighths, and remove and discard the cores. Place the olive oil, 2 tbsp sherry vinegar and the sherry in a small frying pan no larger than 20cm. This size pan will give more depth of liquid (and thus more flavour) to the pears, and contribute to less evaporation. Toss the pears through the liquid, place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning the pears every now and then. At the end of this time, there should be about 2 tbsp of liquid left in the pan. If it looks like there is more, increase the heat slightly and continue to cook until it has reduced. Remove the pears and set aside on a plate. Add the remaining tbsp of sherry vinegar to the pan and stir - this is now your dressing. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To put the salad together, arrange the rocket leaves on a serving platter and spoon the cooked lentils over the top. Using your fingers, gently toss together. Place the cooked pears over the lentils and scatter over the hazelnuts. Gently pour the cooled dressing over the salad and drizzle with a little hazelnut oil, if using.
A good goat's cheese would be a nice addition to offset any sweetness. Crumble a little over the top of the salad once assembled.
If you have access to fresh and artisanal hazelnut oil, this would be the perfect finish for this salad.
You could use chicken stock to give greater depth to the dish, and make the lentils easier to digest.
Use the best-quality Pedro Xim?nez sherry for this salad - ideally one that is fruity and sweet. If yours is slightly acidic, add a tsp of rapadura sugar to balance the flavour.
Extracted from Wholefood from the Ground Up by Jude Blereau (Murdoch Books, approx €20), out July 14. Photography by Cath Muscat.