Fall is finally here and so are pears. They just started popping up in the grocery stores. Seasonal stuff is always so good. This is definitely the best time for winter squash and sweet potatoes. And pears.
I was thinking the other day about a salad I used to make all the time when I entertained. I had to dig deep in my messy recipe drawer to find it. I thought I should make this for us, not just guests. I have quite a few things I only make when I entertain. I need to revisit those recipes, dust them off and start making them again.
Like so many things I used to make, I got this salad idea from the Chicago newspaper, probably circa 1992. It has yellowed and I had scribbled some notes on it. Polenta 8:20. Copy salad for Jo-Marie. I am sure I must have had her for dinner and made this salad. I also must have made polenta. I told my mom I was making this the other night and she said, oh, I love that salad. Yeah, we do too.
Pears are sweet and pretty mild so they work really well with some stronger flavors like blue cheese. This salad is very simple to make, mixed greens with a honey-mustard vinaigrette, crumbled blue cheese and toasted pine nuts. It tastes great and looks so beautiful and appetizing on the plate. No wonder I made this when I had friends and family for dinner.
So Meathead grilled some lamb chops, to absolute perfection. We can’t even remember the last time we had lamb. I put a couple potatoes in the oven and made this pear and blue cheese salad. Lamb chops, baked potato and a perfect fall salad. It doesn’t get any better than this. Treat yourself and family to this salad, and don’t wait for company.
Seasonal and elegant salad for entertaining and the holidays.
- 1 large shallot, minced
- ½ cup safflower oil (or neutral salad oil, like canola)
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ¾ tsp coarsely cracked pepper
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 large ripe, firm pears, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice ~ I used Bartlett but Anjou or Bosc work too)
- 12 cups mixed greens, washed, crisped and chilled
- Kosher slat and pepper
- ⅓ cup blue cheese, crumbled ~ I think I use more
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
For dressing, put all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine.
Toss diced pears with scant 1/4 cup dressing. Can be made 2 hours ahead, cover and refrigerate.
To serve, put greens in a large bowl and toss with remaining dressing. Divide among 6 plates and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Scatter pears over greens, dividing evenly (or do like me and mound the pears in the center of the plate).
Lastly, garnish with crumbled blue cheese and then the pine nuts, again dividing evenly. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Note: To toast pine nuts, put in a small skillet over medium heat and shake and toss until fragrant and light brown. Be careful because they burn easily. Do not take your eyes off the prize.