Pear, Gorgonzola, and Walnut Salad|
Here is the Thanksgiving 2004 salad finalist in all of its glory. I knew I wanted a salad that offered a mix of flavors and textures, but I also wanted something that was very attractive and that could be mostly prepared in advance and just plated at the last second. By making the dressing and toasting the walnuts a day in advance and dressing the greens and slicing the pears a few hours before the meal, I was able to do this with great results and actually had someone else do the very simple process of plating the salads right before dinner. While I prefer the combination of flavors with the Gorgonzola, we also liked this salad with other soft blue cheeses or a mild goat cheese.
3/4 cup pear vinegar (or other flavorful vinegar like sherry or balsamic)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large minced shallot
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons walnut oil (or additional extra-virgin olive oil)
10 cups washed and torn baby mixed greens
4 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 1/2 cups toasted walnut halves
10 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and shallot until smooth. Slowly add the oils, whisking constantly, until emulsified. The dressing can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to two days at this point - just mix well before using. In a large bowl toss together the greens with the dressing - reserving about three tablespoons of the dressing. Place the greens on eight individual plates and top with a fan of pear slices. Sprinkle the walnuts and crumble the cheese over the salads. Drizzle the remaining dressing over top each of the salads and serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes