Danish Blue Cheese and Pear Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

When you start with the best possible ingredients, you’ll quite often find that not much needs to be done to them. Simplicity is key.

You must keep in mind though, that the fewer ingredients in a recipe, the more importance each ingredient carries.

Take this salad for example – I’m not exactly reinventing the wheel. But each ingredient was carefully chosen, for flavor, season, nutrition, color, texture, and because of how well their flavors play off of each other.

For the greens I went with an organic Mesclun mix, both for color and because it offers a wider variety of nutrients. Lettuce is one of the handful of produce items I try to always buy organic because it does not have a protective peel and therefore barrier against pesticides. (Not sure when to spend the extra and buy organic and when to save? Check out The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen on the Environmental Working Group’s Website.)

The second ingredient is the Starkrimson Pear. They are this gorgeous deep red color (hence the name) that are in season from the end of August to the beginning of January. It’s a mild, sweet pear with a very smooth texture. It adds a bright splash of color, a nice crisp bite, and a very light sweet taste.

The cheese I used is a Castello Rosenborg Danish Blue Cheese. Castello has a large variety of blue cheeses, but the Rosenborg line is their collection of award winning cheeses. The Danish Blue variety is what they consider their classic, full strength blue cheese. Its flavor is bold and slightly salty, which means you can use less of it and still get that sharp bite you’re really looking for here (which is good for your wallet and your waist). The saltiness and tang will really balance the flavors in the vinaigrette.

For the dressing, you want to use real maple syrup. As a New Englander, I am completely revolted by that stuff they sell in a talking bottle that is nothing more than thickened artificially flavored sugar water. PLEASE, I beg you, don’t go there!

The star of this dressing is definitely the white wine vinegar. I use Lucini Aceto di Vino Bianco, a Pinot Grigio white wine vinegar from Italy. It’s smooth, dry, and crisp and the perfect complement to the sweetness of the maple syrup. Did I mention that it’s aged in fire roasted Italian oak barrels? The smell and flavor is extraordinary and truly makes this dressing special.

Et voila! A simple, healthy salad that is gorgeous and delicious.

Danish Blue Cheese and Pear Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
Yields: 4 servings

For salad:
6 c. Mesclun Mix greens, washed and dried
1 Skarkrimson Pear, seeded, cored, and very thinly sliced
¼ – ½ c. toasted pecans, roughly chopped
3-4 oz. Castello Rosenborg Danish Blue Cheese, crumbled

For dressing:
¼ c. + 2 tbs. maple syrup
¼ c. vegetable or canola oil
2 tbs. Lucini Pinot Grigio Italian Wine Vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix salad greens, pear, pecans and blue cheese in a large bowl, and set aside, making sure not to cut the pear until right before service.

In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, oil, white wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Dress the salad right before serving, or serve the dressing in a small container off to the side.

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Comments

  1. 1

    Oh, my. This is exactly the kind of salad I look for when I dine out! And now I can make it at home…thank you!!!!

  2. 2

    Wonderful salad! I agree, with good ingredients you don’t need to add much more.

  3. 3

    Jen….I love the pairing of blue cheese and pears! And your maple vinaigrette sounds like it gives this the perfect fall touch! This is such a great salad!

  4. 4

    I love how you use maple syrup in your dressing! Thanks for sharing.

  5. 5

    Yum. Yum. Yum. I love blue cheese with just about anything. Especially fruit. And I really like your idea of using maple syrup in a vinaigrette. Brilliant!

  6. 6

    This is FABULOUS! I always say that quality ingredients treated with respect makes a terrific dish! I love pear and gorgonzola salad, so this is right up my alley! I think using maple syrup in the dressing is brilliant!

    The way you are with maple syrup? I’m the exact same way with Parmesan! I always beg folks not to use the canned junk!

  7. 7

    Just lovely! I love pears and anything blue cheese or the like!

  8. 8

    I totally agree with you on the maple syrup stance! It’s the only kind I use – no artificial stuff for me! And this salad sounds absolutely incredible =)

  9. 9

    FAB salad! I like the way you explain Why you chose each ingredient. And I agree, if you choose quality ingredients, you really can’t go wrong.

    –shelley

  10. 10

    I agree with you entirely. It’s wonderful to let the individual flavours speak for themselves, to compliment rather than overpower.
    With the advent of Spring, I’ve really been appreciating how good the greens have been tasting of late. Iceberg lettuce has been sweet and crunchy, while the wild rocket is peppery and crisp.

  11. 11

    So glad you left a comment on my blog! I’ve been reading your posts and they are great! I love this salad. You are so right about simple things producing amazing results. I look forward to reading more!
    ceecee
    withinthekitchen.blogspot.com

  12. 12

    That looks wonderful! It looks healthy but also full of flavour and textures too :)

  13. 13

    That looks like an amazing salad – and I wohleeheartedly agree – the quality of the ingredients you use is the key – especially in a dish like this!

  14. 14

    Did you just mention blue cheese! haha…. This sounds really yummy.
    Kristy

  15. 15

    This sounds like a wonderful combo of sweet and salty. The maple vinaigrette is a nice accompaniment. Yum!

  16. 16

    I love this maple vinaigrette and need to try this. I hope I can find similar Italian wine vinegar for this!

  17. 17

    Gosh, I’ve already commented…I really need to print this off so I actually follow through and make this! I’d add some dried cherries, too…mmmmmmm.

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