If there’s one new recipe you want to make this holiday season – let this be it! But really, don’t wait for the holidays to make this salad, you’re going to go nuts over it! I went to a dinner at our church had last week (a pot-luck type), there wasn’t a whole lot that caught my attention until I walked by this salad. My senses loved everything about it – it was so pretty, and I could just smell the balsamic vinegar coming from the dressing. It was basically the only thing I ate (sorry everyone there if I didn’t leave much for you). Then I basically sat around like a stalker waiting for someone to pick up that salad bowl so I could get the recipe (I had a good idea of what was in it but it’s a bit easier when you have somewhere to start). Well, I was in luck I just happened to be walking back to find out who made the salad and a woman picked up her bowl and I begged her for the recipe. I told her I’d give her $500, okay not really but that what it’s worth. She so kindly e-mailed it to me and I went from there. I made a few changes of my own, to go along with a few changes that she made (the original recipe called for asiago cheese and cashews and she swapped those out with parmesan and walnuts. She also used a bag of romaine salad mix instead of using half a head of each red and green lettuces). I swapped out the green onions it called for with shallots, added in the dried cranberries, candied the walnuts and added a tad more honey and vinegar). So the recipe has changed quite a bit from it’s original, but that’s the fun part about recipes is that you can add your own twist.
This salad is delicious blend of greens topped with thinly sliced fresh pears and delicate sheets of salty, shaved parmesan. It’s layered with crunchy and sweet candied walnuts and those addicting chewy and tart dried cranberries, then of course it’s finished with the most amazing, richly flavored balsamic dressing. So you see, with this you get the perfect balance of flavors and textures. You can even add in a green apple for one more flavor and another added crunch. You’ll have a hard time wanting to share this one, I think I could finish the whole salad myself. It is definitely my new favorite fall salad. Enjoy!
Autumn Pear Salad
Yield: 5 servings
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 Tbsp finely diced shallot
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 Tbsp salted butter
- 1 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
- 7 oz Spring Salad & Spinach blend
- 2 oz parmesan cheese , shaved
- 2 Red Anjou Pears , sliced thin (Bartlett pears work fine too)
- 1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
For the vinaigrette:
To a blender add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, diced shallot and season with salt and pepper to taste (I used a 1/4 +1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper). Blend mixture until well emulsified, about 20 seconds. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to serve.
For the salad and candied walnuts:
In a medium skillet melt butter along with brown sugar over medium heat. Once mixture has melted add walnuts and cook, stirring constantly until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate in a single layer to cool.
Layer lettuce and pears in a large bowl and toss with dressing, then top with parmesan, dried cranberries and candied walnuts and serve (alternately just layer all the salad ingredients then drizzle with dressing. Note: top this salad with dressing just before serving as it will wilt the lettuces after a while).
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from a recipe from a friend, Audrey MacKay (thanks again Audrey!) whom adapted it from a Cookbook titled "Favorites" by Grace Ivory Rock and Jane Ivory Metcalf