A Perfect Pear

Pears, pears. They're everywhere! Comice, Bartlett, Bosc, Red Bartlett.

While I am grateful for (if only) slightly cooler nights and mornings this time of year brings, I am also quite excited about the prolific selection of pears. I leave them on the kitchen windowsill until they soften up a little and then in the refrigerator they go. 

There was a perfectly ripe and cold Comice pear waiting for me on Tuesday which I refrained from biting into on several occasions. It spoke to me and even called my name, but I held out. Showed some self-control. For once. Because I had better things in mind for this pear.

Since I am still alone, I decided to have salad for dinner. But not just any salad. A spectacularly fantastic and classic fall salad.

Yes, this is an entirely overdone restaurant dish and in dire need of an update, but the combination is just too good together. Why change something that works? Plus, I had everything I needed except the blue cheese, so this salad was really inevitable. Or kismet.

The gorgeous Comice pear. Homegrown lettuce from the farmers market. Much thanks Brenda and her husband of Markley Family Farm. Blue cheese. Toasted walnuts. Dijon vinaigrette. And a few roasted beets on the side, which were a great addition and another little something I found in the fridge.

Though earlier this week I was lamenting the challenges of eating alone, I did not eat by myself on this night. The moment I removed the blue cheese from the refrigerator, there he was. Guero. Looking at me with that face and those eyes.

How could I deny him of something he loves? Blue cheese just happens to be one of his favorites. True, he loves any cheese, but he is definitely a fan of stinky cheese.

He sat right next to me while I ate. Or rather while we ate. Barking on occasion when he thought I was ignoring him. Which I wasn't. As the dog of a foodie, Guero has sophisticated tastes and only likes his lettuce "dressed" so he got his fair share of lettuce and blue cheese.

I am hoping you enjoy this salad as much as Guero did. But, please, keep the barking to a minimum. It really annoys me.

Buen provecho!

Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad
The Cowgirl Gourmet (http://www.thecowgirlgourmet.blogspot.com/)

Print recipe

This is a classic salad and one that is best served in the fall when the pears are at their peak. You could easily use watercress, arugula, butter, radicchio or a combination of these along with some spring mix for a variety of tastes and textures. Sprinkle a few dried cranberries on top for added flavor and great color for the upcoming holidays!

For the nuts, you could replace the walnuts with pecans or even pumpkin seeds. Toasting the nuts a little adds just the right amount of earthiness and crunch to the salad. As for the dressing, I used the same dressing as in the Beet, Celery and Goat Cheese Salad recipe.

I put half of the pear, blue cheese crumbles and toasted nuts in the salad and toss with half of the dressing. Then once the salads are plated add the remaining pear, blue cheese and nuts as garnish and drizzle the last of the dressing on top as well.

Serves 2 as entrees or 4 as salads

For the salad:
4 cups mixed lettuces (spring, arugula, watercress, radicchio, butter or a combination of a few of these)
1 ripe pear, sliced (I cut half into chunks and leave the remaining slices for garnish)
1/4 lb. blue cheese, either crumbles or a chunk o' cheese (if not using crumbles, crumble or chunk half of the cheese and then slice the remaining for garnish)
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, add the mixed lettuce. Cut half of the pear slices into chunks and toss on top of the lettuce, reserving the remaining half.

If not using blue cheese crumbles, crumble half of the blue cheese and slice the rest into long strips for garnish. Add the crumbled blue cheese and half of the nuts to the bowl. Toss with half of the dressing.

Plate the salads and then garnish with the remaining sliced pears, sliced blue cheese or more crumbles, toasted nuts and drizzle with the leftover dressing.

For the dressing:
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (I use white wine vinegar)
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (depending on how acidic or oily you like your dressing)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper in medium bowl and slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil as you continue whisking to emulsify the dressing. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside until ready to dress the salad.

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