This Tangy Balsamic Maple Glazed Pear and Rocket Salad Is Matched with Sweet Grapes and Buttery Roasted Pecans. All These Ingredients Sing in Harmony with The Savoury and Bold Provoleta Blue Cheese.
What is Provoleta Cheese?
Our local farmers markets are always full of gourmet surprises. Not only can we can grab fresh produce but also helpful little tips on how to cook it or match it with other ingredients. And when the three of us strolled near an artisan cheese stall, it was very hard for us not to stop.
Stallholder Roberto from Azzurri Cheese showed us his delicious collection of artisan cheese all freshly handcrafted from his farm in Macedon Ranges. The passion for his produce clearly showed. So of course, we had to taste test all of them! From creamy stracciatella, handmade burrata, smoked scamorza to all versions of caciotta and stuffed provoleta, we had a delicious sample of authentic Italian cheeses.
Not having tasted Provoletta Stuffed with Blue Cheese before, Roberto generously gave us a sample to try at home. He said just put a wedge of cheese over radicchio and drizzle with some olive oil. And he was right. A bittersweet crunch with radicchio matched with semi-hard provoleta and pungent soft blue cheese. It was simple and delicious.
Made from full-fat cow’s milk, I understand the common version of provoleta is stretched curd and moulded into various shapes like pear, sausage or cone. Popular in Italy and Argentina, you will find it being called provolone, provola, and provoleta. They are versions of the same basic cheese.
What Does Provoleta Taste Like?
For me, Azzuri’s Provoletta Stuffed with Blue Cheese was mild to start with salty undertones but when you reach the soft blue cheese, your mouth explodes with full flavour. Delicious contrast in texture and flavour in one block of cheese.
Provoleta alone without the blue cheese is a versatile cheese. You can enjoy it cold or melted. It can be used grated in salads, alone on a cheese platter or melted over pizza. Grilled provolone/provoleta is a very popular Argentinian starter served with grilled bread and a glass of dry Argentinian Malbec.
In my test kitchen, I did try grilling the Provoletta Stuffed with Blue Cheese over radicchio. The cheese melted quickly and was deliciously gooey but the radicchio became a little too bitter so decided not to do it again.
Which Cheese Are Good In Salads?
As cheese lovers, we do enjoy incorporating cheese in salads. Depending on which kind, it can elevate the salad with savoury notes or add creamy textures and even reduce the salad dressing. Cheese in salads can also bulk up a salad without extra protein and transform the salad into a main meal in itself. Here are a few of our favourite types of cheese in salads:
Adds delicious salty flavours and crumbly textures that creates a rich savour to the salad. Try our Yellow Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint.
Soft cheese with distinctive tangy and earthy flavours that pairs well with many ingredients. Try our Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dutch Carrots.
Delicate and soft texture which oozes a buttery consistency. Try our Medley of Tomato and Burrata Salad.
Mild creamy aroma semi-soft cheese that adds delicious delicate flavours. Can use large buffalo mozzarella or bite sized bocconcini in salads. Try our Summer Strawberry Salad with Baby Bocconcini and Rocket.
Why I Love Pear and Rocket Salad with Provoleta Blue Cheese
Even though I really enjoyed Roberto’s suggestion for the Provoletta Stuffed with Blue Cheese, I wanted to create a salad that highlighted its versatility and how the cheese can pair with multiple ingredients.
As you may you may have guessed, being a cheese lover also means I love a good cheese board. For this pear and rocket salad, I have drawn on my favourite flavours that I would find on an appetising board. Tangy balsamic maple glazed pears plus fresh rocket leaves matched with sweet grapes and buttery roasted pecans. All ingredients that sing in harmony with the savoury and bold provoleta blue cheese.
How to Make Pear and Rocket Salad with Provoleta Blue Cheese
How To Make Balsamic Maple Glazed Pears
For this recipe, I chose to use beurre bosc pears. They are perfect as dessert pears because of the buttery sweetness and their lovely elongated shape helps them to be centre stage in a dessert. Eaten raw, beurre bosc pears are sweet, crisp but less juicy than others. And because of their firmness, beurre bosc pears hold up well when cooked.
If you can’t find beurre bosc pears, try Anjou pears or firmer William Bartlett pears. Fully ripe William Bartlett pears may collapse as they break down quickly when cooked.
The balsamic maple glazed pears itself makes a wonderful dessert. Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.
To make balsamic maple glazed pears, let’s start with mixing the glaze. In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of balsamic maple vinegar and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Mix until combined.
Cut pears into quarters lengthwise. Trim core.
Heat a large fry pan and melt butter over medium heat. Add pears cut side down. Spread them out and cook for 3 minutes on one side. Turn them over and cook for another 1 minute or so.
Add ¾ of the balsamic maple glaze to fry pan. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes or until golden brown stirring gently. The glaze will become more thick and sticky.
The pears will soften with the cooking but still holds its shape. The glaze will provide a delicious tangy sweet coating of the pears. As we are adding maple syrup, do be careful not to overcook as it could burn the pears.
Turn off heat but leave pears in pan.
How To Toast Pecans
Warm toasted nuts are one of my weaknesses. I try not to eat all of them before I serve but it’s so hard! You can toast pecans in oven or over stovetop.
Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Scatter pecans on tray and place in oven. Roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Shake the tray a little to avoid burning.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool. (Please leave some for the salad. LOL)
How To Prepare Salad
Wash rocket leaves and give it a shake to remove excess water.
Wash grapes and cut them in half lengthwise
Cut provoleta cheese in half lengthwise exposing the blue cheese in the middle. Slice each half of the cheese into 3-4 long wedges.
How to Assemble the Salad
To showcase the classic pear and cheese pairing, I used a large flat platter to layer the salad. On one side of the platter, I placed provoleta blue cheese and balsamic maple glazed pears in alternate order, layering on each other. Scrap off some of the warm balsamic maple glaze and drizzle over cheese and pears. The warm pears are perfect against the cheese as it starts to soften and become a little gooey.
On the other side of the platter, I scattered rocket leaves first and then added grapes and pecans.
To finish, I drizzled olive oil and the remaining ¼ of balsamic maple glaze over the rocket leaves, grapes and pecans.
Easy rocket pear salad to prepare as there is limited cooking. You can toast pecans in advance and prepare the balsamic maple pears just before serving. If you have limited time, you can prepare the pears in advance and warm slightly in the pan just before serving.
You can experiment and serve your own favourite cheese to match this rocket pear salad. Maybe a mild intricate blue cheese or creamy and buttery brie. More firmer cheese like salty grilled halloumi or even a hard savoury manchego would complement beautifully as well. They will bring their own distinct flavours and textures to the salad but deliver the same amount of joy to your palette.
This pear and rocket salad is a tempting starter or for a refreshing change, serve it at the end in place of the cheese board. We know your friends will love it.
More Salad Recipes with Cheese:
Pear and Rocket Salad with Provoleta Blue Cheese
- 2 beurre bosc pears, large
- 125 g Provoleta stuffed with blue cheese
- 150 g crimson grapes
- 100 g rocket leaves
- 50 g pecans
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp balsamic maple vinegar
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Cut pears lengthwise into quarters and trim core. Heat a large fry pan and melt butter. Place pears cut side down and cook for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook pears for another 1 minute.
- Place balsamic maple vinegar and maple syrup in a bowl and mix together. Add ¾ of the balsamic maple glaze to fry pan and cook pears for another 2 minutes to golden brown and pears have softened. The glaze will become more thick and sticky. Turn off heat but leave pears in pan.
- Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Add pecans to tray and place in oven to toast for 8-10 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Shake the tray occasionally to avoid burning. Remove pecans from oven and set aside to cool.
- Wash rocket leaves and shake dry.
- Wash grapes and cut into half lengthwise.
- Cut provoleta into half lengthwise exposing the blue cheese. Then cut each half of the cheese into 3-4 long wedges.
- Using a large platter, place pears and provoleta blue cheese in alternate order slightly layering each other.
- Scrape some of balsamic maple glaze from pan and drizzle over cheese and pears.
- On the other side the platter, scatter a layer of rocket leaves, then add grapes and pecans.
- To serve, drizzle olive oil and the remaining ¼ of balsamic maple glaze over the rocket, grapes and pecans.
- You can use other types of cheese with this salad such as mild blue cheese, brie, grilled halloumi or Spanish manchego. The rocket pear salad will match well with many varieties of cheese.
- If beurre bosc pears are not available, you can substitute with Anjou or a firm William Bartlett pear.
- The balsamic maple glazed pears itself makes a wonderful dessert. Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream or a dollop of crème fraîche.