Baked Roquefort Green Salad with Caramelised Red Onions

Baked Roquefort Green Salad

As the weather cools down and the Autumnal products are so plentiful at our local market, I wanted to cook up a salad.  I say cook, as my husband refuses to eat a plate of cold food! So, what better to mix melted cheese on vegetables and add some festive looking colours to greens with this baked roquefort green salad. It’s also easy enough to prepare in advance for entertaining – and great at any time of year!

Time to Cork up!

Before the Christmas cards are thought of, as wine lovers we suddenly receive the most lovely “urgent” festive invitations from French wine producers in November.  They’re normally in the form of wine tastings on each producer’s individual stand – on a barge on the Seine, to the chaos of the independent wine festival at Paris’ Porte de Versailles, to a whole variety of welcoming charismatic Christmas village Fêtes outside of Paris. We normally opt for the more convivial barge and village fêtes – and usually end up taking home much more than we had planned, including dishes of ready-made stuffed garlic snails that we can stock in the freezer (I always fall for that one).  Each festival has one thing in common: to tell us the urgency of stocking up on their wines for the holidays.

If you love wine like we do, you’ll also love being in France in September/beginning October for the Foire aux Vins wine sales. Supermarkets and specialist wine shops produce their catalogues of starred vintages, “great value”, 94 Parker points, or their sommelier’s choice; while French magazines list their “coups de coeur” favourites. It’s fun to spot those leaning on their supermarket trolleys, as they tick off their pre-selected wine lists with the most serious looking expressions. It’s not like buying that bargain half-price sale jacket that doesn’t yet go with anything in your wardrobe; this can often take some sober cogitation such as, “Will it improve with age?”.
I’ve never found the right clothes to match that jacket over the years and continue to run around the store, chatting up the “sommelier” for tips (he’s more-than-often a sly sales rep, who has a way with the ladies), and grab what looks promising – that’s me and the wines, of course.

caramelised red onion garnish

Red onion garnish simmering in white wine …

Shiny Caramelised Red Onions in White Wine

You win some; you lose some. This year I didn’t spend the time analysing the specialist magazines and listened to a quick tip on RTL French radio during a school run: aim at 2015 wines.  So I targeted some good “potential” labels. Last week I finally opened a few; the corkscrew unveiled a couple of surprising mediocre wines under their slightly vinaigrette cork, albeit not bad. French hubby now knows more than I do about wine and resting on my wine diploma is starting to stretch a bit 26 years later.  “Why do you keep doing this?”, he whimpers.

Well, you know: I love cooking as much as I do appreciating wine.  In the end, it’s a win-win rather than a whine (sorry) situation with a new handy stock of cooking wines at hand. Don’t get me wrong: if the wine is not good enough for drinking then don’t cook with it. I’m talking about being disappointed on a wine that should be much better than it looks, so ideal for splashing into that pot.

White cooking wine is great for risottos (like this beetroot horseradish risotto with matching savoury macarons, or this chorizo prawn risotto), plus a wintery Blanquette de Veau casserole or Lotte à l’Amoricaine Monkfish stew– and now I’ve found another use: to make the shiniest brilliant caramelised red onions!  They look like beetroot shavings, don’t they?  The flavour is absolutely delicious with this green salad – a perfect colourful starter to add some healthy colour to the start of any festive meal.