Blue cheese, red wine, hazelnut and pear salad

Photographer: Emma

In NZ, we are lucky to have a vast selection of fresh foods on our doorstep; seafood, dairy, beef, lamb, pork, poultry, farmed and wild meats, tomatoes, kiwifruit, avocados and berries are just a selection of our local faire.

I recommend adapting and modifying recipes to include cheaper and more readily available produce.  If you are growing fruit, vegetables or herbs, swap with someone you know that is growing something different.  Even living in the city you can grow herbs on your balcony or out of planter boxes.  Find recipes to preserve your home-grown produce so you can enjoy it all year round.

You can adapt this recipe to any season; use apple instead of pear, if walnuts are cheaper than hazelnuts use those, use a sharp, crumbly blue cheese if you prefer.  Add crispy bacon lardons or soft ribbons of prosciutto, the possibilities are absolutely endless….. I only ask that you keep the croutons and vinaigrette as I have recommended; the chewy croutons balance the crispy fruit and nuts, and the vinaigrette is the perfect balance of tart and creaminess.


For the dressing:
2tbsp red wine vinegar
6tbsp olive oil
2tsp sugar
1tsp wholegrain mustard
30g blue cheese (or to taste)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
½ loaf of ciabatta (ok if a little stale)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 x pears
Juice of 1 lemon
70g hazelnuts
30g blue cheese
Cos/baby cos lettuce


1. In a food processor, blend the red wine vinegar with the olive oil, sugar, mustard, blue cheese and fresh thyme. Once smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cut the ciabatta into desired crouton shape (slices or cubes). Toss or spray with a little olive oil, season and bake at 180ºC for 5-10 minutes. Don’t completely crisp-up the croutons; they should be a bit soft in the middle. Leave the croutons to cool.
3. Roast the hazelnuts in the oven (180ºC on bake) for approximately 15 minutes or until they start to shed their shells. Take them out of the oven and once they are cool enough to handle, roll the nuts between your hands to remove the shells.
4. In a bowl mix the croutons with ¾ of the dressing.
5. Slice the pears thinly and squeeze lemon juice over to prevent browning.
6. Roughly chop the hazelnuts.
7. Arrange cos, pear, croutons, hazelnuts and remaining blue cheese in a salad bowl or on a large platter. Pour over remaining dressing and serve.