The bite of blue cheese paired with the sweetness of candied pecans* and fresh pears make for a myriad of flavors in this salad. When pears are in season, it’s a great way to use up a stash that’s all ripened at the same time. (Anyone else have that happen? Green, green, green…oh no! They’re all ripe NOW!) And where did I get this winner? From my friend and co-worker Tom, a single guy who claims to not know how to cook, and who has been my number one blog fan (but not in a creepy “Misery” kind of way…). His Mom shared the recipe with him, which she’d found in the November 2015 edition of allrecipes.com. It was touted as the perfect first course at a Thanksgiving dinner, but my friend Marylee and I made it for lunch on a hot, June day, and it was juuuuuust right. I did make a few adjustments—doubled the amount of pecans (but not the sugar), upped the Dijon mustard, and added some cukes to the salad. They suggested using Roquefort cheese,* as it’s supposed to have the best flavor, but I couldn’t find it at Costco on my weekly trek. So I used run-of-the-mill blue cheese, and it was simply delicious.
Makes 4 main dish, or 6 side salads
For candied pecans:
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup pecans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
Dash course-ground black pepper
1-2 heads romaine lettuce, julienned (about 8-10 cups)
3-4 pears, cored and cubed
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered into bite-size pieces
1-2 avocados, diced
4-6 scallions, sliced thin (aka: green onions)
6 ounces Roquefort or blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Combine sugar and pecan halves in small skillet on medium heat. Stir gently until sugar has melted and caramelized and adhered to the pecans. Transfer nuts to a piece of tin foil and set aside to cool. (Try to break up nuts as you place on foil.)
In clean glass jar—or whisk in a bowl—combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, garlic, salt, and pepper for dressing. Set aside.
Layer lettuce, pears, cucumbers, avocados, scallions, and blue cheese on a large platter or 4-6 individual plates. Drizzle with dressing. Break up cooled candied pecans, and sprinkle on top just before serving.
*NOTES: If you don’t have time to make the candied pecans and let them cool for your salad, you can purchase Planters honey roasted peanuts, and sprinkle those on top of your salad(s). The snack pack size is perfect for an individual salad. The candied pecans or honey roasted nuts really are an essential ingredient to this salad recipe!
Roquefort cheese is aged exclusively in the Combalou caves in France, and is known for it’s creamy texture, as well as fabulous flavor. No wonder I couldn’t find it at Costco. That’s just too uppity for a big box store.