Ohh man, this salad. I just ate this salad, right before I wrote this blog post. It was seriously delicious.
To be truthful, this is a little more involved than the average dinner salad. It’s not difficult, but there’s more steps. That’s where all the flavor comes from! Flavor building steps.
Even so, it’s not difficult. Beautiful autumn pears are peeled and tossed into a bath of warm, sweet, spiced red wine. I used Pinot Noir, but you can use whatever red you have on hand. They cook down for about a half hour, but this step can be done way in advance of plating your salads.
We’re not done with the wine after the pear-wine pool party. I take using wine for uses other than consumption seriously, and waste as little as possible. I suppose it’s a principle residual from college.
We reduce that wine down and use it as the base for the perfectly complimentary dressing for this salad. Done and done.
Sweet pears with a hint of red wine pair with tangy blue cheese like you wouldn’t believe. This is a really classic pairing, and if you haven’t tried it before this is the perfect place to start.
This is a perfect salad to have before a really easy main dish. We had it while some pre-seasoned salmon baked in the oven.
It’s also the perfect thing to bring to a friend’s house for dinner as your contribution to the meal. Poach the pears and remove the cores beforehand. Slice the onion and prepare the dressing, then pack it all up and prepare to impress.
POACHED PEAR SALAD WITH PINOT NOIR VINAIGRETTE
Makes 4 small salads
4 pears, peeled (I used Bosc pears)
1 whole grapefruit
1 1/2 cups red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
4 large handfuls mixed greens
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced shallot
salt and pepper
Slice the grapefruit in half. Squeeze the juice from one half into a large sauce pot. Add the red wine, water, sugar, cloves, and allspice berries to the pot. Add the peeled pears and place over medium heat. The pears should be at least half way submerged.
Let the pears simmer in the wine mixture for 30 minutes or until they are fork tender and the outsides turn pink. Stir the mixture and rotate the pears ever 5-10 minutes to keep from burning and to keep them cooking evenly in the wine.
When they are finished, remove the pears to cool on a plate. Raise the heat under the wine mixture and let reduce to at least half, about 15 minutes. Let the reduced wine mixture cool to room temperature.
When ready to plate your salads: squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit half into a mixing cup. Remove and seeds and add 1 cup of the reduced red wine mixture, the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and minced shallot.
Arrange four small plates, and to each add: a large handful of mixed greens, 1/4 of the sliced red onion, 2 tbsp. blue cheese, and 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts. Slice each pear in half and use a melon baller or paring knife to remove the core and seeds. Slice into 1/4-inch sliced and lay half a pear on each salad.
Stir the dressing again if it has separated and drizzle over each salad. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy immediately.