This is our very favorite salad. I really don’t need to say too much more than that, do I? We eat a lot of salads around here and we rotate their frequency, but it’s always sort of special when I put this one together. It's affectionately called THE salad.
Firstly, I must thank my daughter, Lisa, for sharing the recipe with me. I think that was like a year ago or maybe longer, and it’s taken me this long to get it up on the blog and for that I apologize. To everyone. You could have been making this all year, but because of some serious procrastination on my part, you’ve been denied that pleasure. Again, I apologize.
But the reason I haven’t posted it before is that I honestly don’t enjoy photographing salads. And the main reason is that it usually takes at least a good hour (usually much longer), depending on the subject, to compose the salad, set things up for the photo shoot, take the photos, and then take some more photos cuz those ones sucked and then try one more time. Sigh. And by then, the lettuce is pretty soggy and there’s no way this salad is going to be able to hang out until dinner and still be good and I really really do NOT like wasting food so it’s kind’ve a dilemma for me, especially since the best light for photos here is in the early afternoon. So the way I dealt with that in this particular instance, was to put very little dressing on the salad. In fact, I put so little dressing on the salad that it's barely discernible and it's probably at this point not a very accurate representation of how the salad looks after you pour that luscious dressing on it. But there you have it... we were able to enjoy this salad and there was no waste, but your photo lacks dressing and for that I'm really really sorry.
By now you're most likely looking at your watch and wondering what the heck I’m going on about, and I apologize again for wandering so far off subject, but I think it’s maybe important to talk about what happens to the food that bloggers photograph. I will tell you that every bit of the food you see on this blog gets eaten and enjoyed and there is no waste, but then the salads are just hard. And that’s why it’s taken me so long to post this and gosh, I’m just really sorry.
Because, people, this is quite the special salad and if you haven’t gotten your Thanksgiving menu all figured out yet and a salad might figure into your plans, this one would be simply awesome. It’s seasonal… pears and, well, pears are in season, and I think blue cheese is in season too. Certainly pomegranate seeds are in season (the original recipe calls for thinly sliced red onion and that's yummy too) and pecans! Yes, pecans are in season. So yes! It’s seasonal and festive and pretty, but most of all it’s just simply and incredibly delicious.
Oh! The dressing! I haven’t mentioned the dressing! Oh my ever loving goodness, it’s practically the whole reason why this salad is so good! It’s creamy and sort of sweet, but the apple cider vinegar balances the maple syrup and brown sugar perfectly and with the blue cheese and the pears it all just works. That's sort of understating it. Oh, and those candied pecans? Lordy, just don't get me started. Addictingly delicious doesn't even begin to describe...
So if you’ve already got your Thanksgiving menu set, then this salad would be perfectly lovely for any holiday meal and most certainly it should have a place on your Christmas buffet. I'm pretty sure blue cheese will still be in season then. Here’s the recipe…
Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans
This is one extraordinarily delicious salad that is just made for a holiday table, but it’s wonderful any time of the year. You can make quite a few substitutions to suit your own tastes, namely using apples instead of pears or instead of the sliced red onion called for in the original recipe, I like to add in some pomegranate seeds. Or you can use both! We’ve made this using all spinach or with mixed greens and both work great, but the spinach holds up really well with the creamy dressing. I've included a recipe to make your own candied pecans, but you can, of course, use store bought if you find them.
1 (10 ounce) bag mixed field greens or spinach
1/2 cup sliced red onion (optional, I like to substitute pomegranate seeds)
1 Bosc pear, cored and sliced (or you can use an apple)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/2 cup chopped candied pecans (see below for recipe)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Make the salad dressing
Candy the pecans, if not using store-bought (chop, if needed)
Slice the red onion, if using
Core and slice the pear (or apple)
Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Add the red onion (if using), sliced pears and blue cheese, and toss to mix evenly. Pour on just enough of the salad dressing to thoroughly coat the greens. Toss to mix and then sprinkle the top of the salad with the pomegranate seeds (if using), a little more of the blue cheese, if you like, and the candied pecans.
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnut oil (or canola or olive oil)
Place the maple syrup, vinegar, mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a blender, and blend thoroughly. With the motor running, slowly pour in the walnut (or vegetable) oil. Blend until mixture becomes creamy, about 1 minute.
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (I use Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.
Bake pecans 10-15 minutes or until pecans are golden and the coating bubbles. While the pecans bake, place a piece of aluminum foil on your kitchen counter or table.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the pecans to the foil. Working quickly, separate the nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)