Pear Walnut Salad

I just recently started making this salad, and already it has become a favorite! The combination of the sweet but not-too-sweet pears, the hearty walnuts and the unmistakable blue cheese makes this a winner and something you can do for a light lunch or with a soup for a casual dinner party. I have served it with red saucy Italian fare, a roast chicken dinner, or on its own. If you don’t care for blue cheese, the salad is interesting enough to just omit it, or try cubing some Gruyere. Champagne vinegar for the dressing can be found in your regular grocery store, I even found it at Target in the grocery department one time, so give it a try!

 


Pear Walnut Salad
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Recipe type: Entree salad
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 3 large Romaine hearts, or 2 heads of lettuce (such as red leaf, butter, or Romaine)
  • 2 ripe pears (I used Bartlett, but use what looks and smells good at the market)
  • 1½ cups shelled walnuts
  • 4 oz. blue cheese (your choice, I use Gorgonzola. I buy a block and crumble it before serving.)
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Special equipment: Salad spinner
Instructions
  1. Wash and spin your greens dry. Tear into bite-sized pieces and place in your largest salad bowl.
  2. Rinse pears and slice into ½ inch cubes. I place the pears stem up on the board and slice the sides down and off the pears, leaving the cores behind. Then I lay the slices flat on the board to cube them. Toss the pears over the lettuce.
  3. Toast the walnuts. In a small pan over medium heat, place the walnuts and let them toast for up to 4 or 5 minutes, tossing every minute and keeping a close eye on them so they don't burn. Remove pan from heat for a moment and then toss the walnuts over the salad.
  4. Crumble the blue cheese. Using a fork over either the salad bowl or a separate bowl (your call, I do it into a separate bowl so guests can choose whether to have blue cheese or not), crumble the blue cheese.
  5. Make the dressing. In a medium mixing bowl, add the vinegar, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together. Then, in a slow stream, add the olive oil, whisking vigorously to emulsify the dressing. Taste dressing on a leaf of lettuce and add a little salt or vinegar if you like. But keep in mind, the cheese has salt, so not too much extra is needed.
  6. Set the dressing and the blue cheese bowls near the salad, and serve! If you want to make this ahead, it works very well. Just give the dressing a quick re-whisking right before serving and don't cut up the pears until the last minute.

 

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