Salad with Fennel, Peppered Pear and Fig Vinaigrette

You can make this vinaigrette with fresh figs; adjust the acidity by adding balsamic vinegar.

3 cups cress or mixed seasonal salad greens
2 ripe pears, Bartlett or Bosc are preferable, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel, thinly sliced vertically
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces

1 cup dried Mission figs, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
2 tsp. minced thyme leaves
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly milled pepper

Prepare and plate the greens just before serving. Since the pear and fennel will discolour, they must be sliced and add at the last minute.

Prepare the dressing ahead if desired: Combine half the figs with the water and bring to boiling, cook until just soft. Pour into the food processor or blender and purée.

Transfer the purée to a bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Add the remaining minced figs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Peppered Pears
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
sea salt to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet large enough to hold the pears in a single layer.
Add the pears and brown sugar. Allow the brown sugar to melt and gild each side of the pear. When the pears are tender and a deep caramel colour, add the pepper and stir to coat.

Source of recipe: Glenys