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This salad is perfectly in season and gathered from the many producers at the Otago Farmers Market.
Watercress and pear salad with toasted hazelnuts and blue cheese
500g watercress, large stalks removed
3 fresh, firm pears
100g good quality blue cheese
50 hazelnuts (toasted and skins removed)
1 red onion, diced finely
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
½ tsp runny honey
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or good quality rapeseed oil
Pinch sea-salt flakes and grind or two of black pepper
Make the dressing first by placing all the ingredients together in a small bowl and whisking together to combine; it is vital that you taste the dressing as it needs to have an appealing balance of flavour and acidity. Adjust if necessary.
Pick through the watercress, discarding the long, sinewy stalks and any leaves that are wilted or squashed. Place the leaves into a large bowl along with the finely diced red onion and toasted hazelnuts.
Cut the pears in half and then in half again and remove the core, slice into medium-sized wedges and add to the salad. Crumble in the blue cheese, season lightly with sea-salt flakes and a grind of pepper (it is important to season your salad as you would vegetables). Drizzle over half the dressing and toss lightly with your fingertips so every leaf, pear, nut and cheese is evenly coated with dressing. If your salad is looking a little dry add more dressing, but don't drown it.
Serve immediately as the watercress will wilt almost instantly.
• Alison Lambert, chef at the Otago Farmers Market, will be demonstrating this recipe at the market on Saturday morning.