This elegant first course salad was created by Chef David LeFevre.
1 bottle (750 ml) sauterne wine
1/2 loaf pumpernickel bread
2 ounces (1/4 cup) olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup cracked ice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup Wisconsin Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup heavy cream
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup salad oil
2 ripe pears, cut in 12 1/2-inch slices
1/2 pound candied walnuts - divided use
2 heads butter lettuce, cut in 1/2-inch strips
1 head Belgian endive
1/2 pound (8 ounces) red oak lettuce
1/2 pound (8 ounces) dried pears, cut in 1/4-inch strips
1/4 pound (4 ounces) Wisconsin Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
4 ounces yellow wax beans, blanched and shocked
- For Sauterne Reduction: In heavy medium saucepan, reduce sauterne to about 1/2 cup or until consistency of thick syrup as it cools. Cool and hold for plating.
- For Pumpernickel Croutons: Heat oven to 350°F (175°C). Cut bread into 1/4-inch cubes. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Spread in shallow baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until bread is dry and crunchy. Cool; seal in airtight container.
- For Walnut Puree: Place toasted walnuts, ice and lemon zest into blender. Blend at high speed. With blender running, slowly pour walnut oil into blender. Blend until thick and smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Cool and hold for plating.
- For Gorgonzola Mousse: Melt 1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese in small bowl over pan of boiling water. Cool until just warm. In mixing bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Slowly fold melted cheese into whipped cream. Do not overwork mixture. Store refrigerated in airtight container until plating time.
- For Red Wine Vinaigrette: Place vinegar and mustard in blender container; blend at high speed. With blender running, slowly drizzle in salad oil. Blend until thick and smooth. Set aside for salad.
- Final preparation of Salad: On one side of each square plate, make three quenelles of the mousse in a line. Arrange 3 pear slices and 4 or 5 candied walnuts by the quenelles. On the other side of the plate, make a pool of the walnut puree using about 2 tablespoons. In a large mixing bowl, mix the lettuces, dried pears, some of the croutons, remaining candied walnuts, 1/4 pound crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and the wax beans. Toss with the vinaigrette. Season to taste. Place on top of the walnut puree. In between the Gorgonzola quenelles and the pear slices, drizzle about 1 teaspoon of the sauterne reduction.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe and photograph courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.