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Valentine's Starter: Endive, Pear, Goats Cheese and Pecan Salad

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Valentine's Starter: Endive, Pear, Goats Cheese and Pecan Salad

Styling by Leiths alumna Jess Mcintosh, Photography by Will Richards

Our balanced, indulgent Valentine's Day menu aims to bring the evocative feeling of dining out to your own table. The recipes are designed to be made ahead of time, taking only five minutes to complete and serve each dish on the night, so you can make the most of your romantic evening without the stresses of the kitchen interrupting.

We're starting our three course Valentine's Day menu with a simple, seasonal salad which is bursting with delicious, fresh contrasting flavours and textures. The balance of peppery, bitter chicory crunch, sweet pear and creamy goats cheese brings this plate together perfectly, and the popping reds and greens of this salad make it an easy dish to present beautifully.

Leiths recommended wine pairings for this dish:

Great value: Vermentino Sicilia Mandrarossa, Sicily, Italy 2019 (£7.50 - The Wine Society)

Classic: Mathilde De Favray Pouilly Fumé, Loire Valley, France 2018 (£17 - M&S)

Premium choice: Camel Valley Brut, Cornwall, England, NV (£27.99 - Waitrose)


Valentine's main course (Pork Cheek Pappardelle)
Valentine's dessert (Chocolate Fondants)

Ingredients

Serves 2 (use double quantity to serve 4)

For the dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of ½ a lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp honey or a few pinches of sugar
2 tbsp mix of finely chopped parsley, chives and mint leaves (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Endive, Pear, Goats Cheese and Pecan Salad
50g pecans, can be replaced with hazelnuts or walnuts
1 firm but ripe pear, washed
1 head red endive
A handful of mustard leaves, or preferred small leaf
85g firm goats cheese or blue cheese, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

For the dressing

  1. For the dressing, beat together the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, honey and seasoning with a fork to emulsify the ingredients. Alternatively shake vigorously in a small jar. Reserve the chopped herbs (if using) to be added when serving the salad.

For the salad

  1. Place the pecans on a tray and toast for 5-7 minutes in the pre-heated oven until lightly golden, but not burnt or they will taste bitter.
  2. To prepare the pears, cut them lengthways into quarters, then remove the core. Then halve the pieces again so you have eight slices of pear.
  3. Heat a griddle pan.
  4. While it's heating, trim the ends of the endive and separate the leaves. Roughly chop or break up the pecans.
  5. When the griddle is searing hot, lightly oil the pears in a bowl. Grill the pears for 30 seconds - 1 min on each side until griddle marks appear. Set aside the pears until you're ready to assemble your salad.
  6. This salad can be served warm or cold depending on your preference.

To serve

  1. Add the herbs to the dressing and dress the salad leaves in a bowl, taste to check the seasoning.
  2. Gently place the dressed leaves onto plates with the pears, goats cheese and pecans arranged on top.

Author: Jane Montgomery

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