Homemade cheese, pickled pear, beetroot and confit fennel salad

Homemade cheese, pickled pear, beetroot and confit fennel salad

Dig In!
Mark Roper

Chances are you will have most of the ingredients for this in your kitchen cupboard or fridge. The salad uses just a few ingredients in a few different ways to create something special. Cooking fennel this way makes it the hero of the dish, rather than just being a filler. Roasted and fresh beetroot are added for both interest and a pop of colour. For this dish you will make your own fresh cheese or ‘panir’, but it’s simple.


Quantity Ingredient
30g walnuts
420ml grapeseed oil
2 small bulbs fennel, 1 cut into wedges and 1 thinly sliced. fronds reserved
2 medium beetroot, 1 kept whole, 1 halved with 1 of these halves thinly sliced
150g rock salt
175ml honey
30ml apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pouring cream
20g butter

Fresh cheese

Quantity Ingredient
2 litres milk
30ml apple cider vinegar

Pickled pear

Quantity Ingredient
140ml apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pear


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C for a fan-forced oven).
  2. Put the walnuts on a baking tray lined with baking paper and toast in the oven for 3–5 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool.
  3. To make the cheese, place the milk in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and stir until the milk splits.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a muslin-lined sieve and strain, reserving the solids and discarding the liquid. Drain for 15–20 minutes until the mixture is quite thick.
  5. Wrap the solids in the muslin and squeeze them gently to form a log shape, about 12 cm long. Twist the ends to secure them and set aside in the refrigerator.
  6. For the pickled pear, thinly slice the pear lengthways until reaching the core, then slice from the other side.
  7. Put the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the pear slices and set aside to pickle for 30 minutes.
  8. Place 400 ml of the grapeseed oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat to 100°C, then add the fennel wedges and cook very gently, keeping the oil at 100°C, until the fennel is soft, about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  9. Wrap the whole and unsliced half beetroot in foil and place on top of the rock salt on a baking tray. Roast in the oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, unwrap and cut the beetroot into small cubes. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the salt. Set the beetroot aside.
  10. Place the honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the uncooked fennel slices and simmer gently until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the fennel and set aside. Add the vinegar, cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine. Allow to simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  11. Place the toasted walnuts and the left-over rock salt in a mortar and pestle and crush to a coarse powder.
  12. Slice the reserved cheese into slices. Heat the remaining grapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the cheese slices and fry them until golden, about 1 minute on each side.
  13. To serve, divide the pickled pear, sliced fresh beetroot, roasted beetroot, fennel wedges and slices and the cheese between the serving plates. Drizzle with the honey–cream sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle with the walnut powder.
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