This recipe was inspired by a starter at the Fer à Cheval restaurant in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier. Frying or grilling the cheese caramelises it and that flavour is further enhanced by the extra-nuttiness of the pecans resulting from dry-frying them.

for four

  • 120g log-shaped, rinded goats’ cheese – since this is St Patrick’s Day – a St Tola Log cheese would be appropriate. It comes from the Burren (County Clare), an ancient area with huge, flat, rocks where alpine plants flourish. You can buy it at Tesco’s and on-line at Sheridan’s cheesemongers.
  • 145-200g bag washed salad which includes some bitter leaves such as radicchio
  • 100 g halved pecan nuts, dry fried (in a pancake pan) for about two minutes
  • 2tbsp honey (orange blossom honey would be fine, truffle honey would be wonderful, Sardinian bitter honey or chestnut honey optimum) Or the darkest maple syrup you can find.
  • 8 tbsp olive oil (use the oil from the sundried tomatoes first, but leave those in the rest of the jar covered in oil)
  • 4 sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 teasp dried or fresh thyme
  • smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  • 1 fresh fig (nb the season in the UK is September and October)
  • 1 tsp Belazu balsamic pearls – these look like caviar, marvellous – but of course you can also just wave some thick, syrupy balsamic artistically over the plate….
  1. shred the salad leaves with a plastic lettuce knife
  2. slice the sundried tomatoes really thinly (about 1mm wide)
  3. mix the salt, pepper, thyme, oil and honey, in a glass dressing bottle, warm gently
  4. slice the fig very thinly
  5. slice the cheese, about 2mm/½ inch thick, and grill until light golden on the top (or if you have an aga you can cook briefly on both sides on a greased griddle, or use a super hot non-stick frying pan)
  6. on each plate scatter the salad leaves, the nuts, the sundried tomatoes
  7. cover the slices of goats’ cheese with the fig slices, put one at each corner of the plate and one in the middle
  8. pour on the dressing, do the artistic thing with the balsamic, and serve

The Fer à Cheval restaurant is seconds away from the bottom of the run below….  after that kind of run you’d need a salad!