From pear salad to super grilled cheese

Chicago TribuneOctober 29, 2013 

FOOD FOODFAST-PEAR-SALAD TB

Pear and Blue Cheese sandwich with cole slaw.

BILL HOGAN — MCT

Fall makes me think of pears, and pears make me think of that oft-seen salad in which the fruit is paired with walnuts and chunks of blue cheese over lettuce.

It’s popular in restaurants for a reason. The sweet and juicy pears play off the salty rich cheese, while the walnuts add texture and their nutty rich flavor.

But what if the pears and cheese go into a grilled sandwich? And what if the sandwich uses Asian pears, for their crisp flesh and floral notes?

Grilled Pear and Blue Cheese Sandwich with Slaw If you cannot find pepper jelly, try another an apricot or fig preserve for a bit of sweetness or giardiniera for heat. Or both. If the radicchio makes the slaw too bitter, add a little honey or fresh orange juice to the dressing. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 1/2 head radicchio, cored, sliced in thin ribbons 1 small bulb fennel, cored, julienned 1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted 4 slices rustic bread 2 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature 1 medium Asian pear, cored, thinly sliced 1 to 2 tablespoons jarred pepper jelly

WHISK 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. Spoon half the vinaigrette over the radicchio and fennel in a bowl; toss. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss again; add more dressing, if needed. Top with the walnut pieces.

SPREAD the blue cheese over one side of 2 slices of bread, gently mushing into the bread so cheese doesn’t fall off while cooking. Layer the pear slices on top. Spread pepper jelly over one side of the other 2 slices of bread. Sandwich the pepper jelly slices over the pear and cheese slices. Spread the tops and bottoms of the sandwiches with a little olive oil.

HEAT 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sandwiches; cook, turning once, until golden brown and the cheese melts. Serve with the slaw alongside.

Note: Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

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