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
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
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.