Winter salad with spiced pecans, pears and Devon Blue

Serves 4-6

The secret to winter salads is having a good selection of leaves. We're using all sorts here at moment – from pak choi and raddiccio to mustard leaf and dandelion – but because a lot of these leaves are bitter you need a reasonably sweet dressing; here the pears do the trick. The spiced pecans are so delicious you could serve them on their own, with drinks.

300g mixed winter salad leaves
75g pecan nuts
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
A dash of Tabasco
1tsp salt
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
3tbsp vinaigrette (see below)
75g Devon Blue cheese (or gorgonzola or dolcelatte), crumbled

For the vinaigrette

240ml sunflower oil
4tbsp good-quality balsamic or red-wine vinegar
Garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt
1tbsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt and black pepper

Wash and dry the leaves and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the pecans with the cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and salt. Scatter them over a baking tray and bake in an oven preheated to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 5-6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove and leave to cool.

For the vinaigrette, combine the ingredients vigorously (makes about 300ml). Put the pears and salad leaves in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Divide between 4 plates, scatter over the blue cheese and pecan nuts and serve.

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