A dish is like a play, each ingredient has a role, and the special attention taken to the ingredients are like clothes and makeup for the players. In a good dish, all the ingredients play off each other in such a way that they enhances each others flavors, but not lose themselves in the crowd.

In this salad, grilled eggplants are tossed with cognac poached pears, along with walnuts and slivers of pecorino cheese, in a garlic and herb vinaigrette, dotted with honey. Sweet, sharp, smoky, salty, there are so many possible permutations of flavor in this salad. Sometimes too many ingredients can make a dish confusing, but in this case it was perfect.

With so many ingredients, this dish actually was fairly fast and easy to make, especially if you have a gas grill. Most of the time was spent by me setting up a charcoal grill, but while the fire was getting ready I prepped the pears and vinaigrette.

To make the cognac poached pears, Bosc pears are peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick lengths. In a medium sauce pan, butter is melted over moderate heat. The pears are added and coated in butter, cooking for about 3 minutes.


Add the cognac, and turn the pears to coat. I let the pears cook a little longer so some of the juice is released and the cognac flavor absorbed into the pears. Set the pears aside in a plate.


To make the vinaigrette, stir together olive oil, chopped garlic, red wine vinegar, and chopped parsley in a bowl and set aside.


When the grill is hot enough, grill the eggplant slices brushed with olive oil over medium hot fire until cooked through.


To plate, layer the eggplant slices in a large serving dish, over lapping just a bit, scatter pear slices, toasted walnut, and freshly sliced pecorino cheese over the eggplant. Drizzle the dish with the vinaigrette, and dot with drops of honey.

Eggplant Pear Walnut and Pecorino Salad