Updated Monday, February 7th, 2005
Yield: 4 servings
SOME FLAVORS WERE made for each other -- cheddar with apples, coffee with chocolate, and pears with blue cheese and almonds. The sweetness of pears is the perfect complement to the creamy tang of blue cheese and rich, nutty flavors.
The following salad is really made in four stages, but each step is simple and can be done ahead of time. I start with whichever type of pear looks best at the market (all work equally well). For cooking purposes, I choose pears that are firm, but not hard; for eating raw, pears should be fragrant and slightly soft at the stem end.
You can leave the skin on, but peel the pears if you object to the slightly bitter taste of the outside skin. If the pears are going to sit for a while, I dip the cut side of the pear in lemon or pineapple juice to prevent browning.
If you are short on time, slice the pears thinly and caramelize them in a skillet, omitting the baking step completely, or, if you're very rushed, simply slice the pears and serve raw. Either way, use cold, crisp salad greens as a bed for your pears and shake up a homemade dressing. I keep a lidded bottle marked with a line at 1/4 cup and 1 cup, which allows me to pour in the standard ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil without using a measuring cup. For this salad, I've added a little honey, shallot, salt, and pepper. However, ingredients like Dijon mustard, chopped onion, minced garlic, herbs, and spices are all classic additions to this sauce.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Place pear halves in butter, cut side down. Cook 2 to 5 minutes until cut surface is golden. Remove pear halves and place, cut side up, in a lightly greased roasting pan.
Bake 30 minutes, or until pears are tender. Place hot pears on a bed of salad greens. Sprinkle blue cheese and Honey-Roasted Almonds over salad. Drizzle with Honey Vinaigrette and sprinkle with additional pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Stir together almonds and honey. Spread on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring after 10 minutes. Spoon onto waxed paper to cool.
Yield: 3/4 cup
Combine all ingredients in a jar, cover tightly, and shake vigorously.
Yield: about 1-1/4 cups
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