The Perfect Pear & Goat Cheese Salad

It’s T-minus 8 days until deployment, and I’ve finally got my husband back.  I don’t know who is happier, me or the dogs.  Just kidding, it’s totally me.

We’ve been celebrating his return to daylight with pretty much non-stop eating out and wine…so much wine.  I don’t feel too bad about it.  Although I can literally feel my body swelling to the extent that some of my favorite dresses are barely leaving room for breath, I don’t care.  In one week, it will be “Adios!” to eating out, and “Hola” to the gym.

Usually, when we’ve overindulged for several days straight, we are both craving something green and fresh to detox.  We are both insanely wild about this pear and goat cheese salad, and so is pretty much everyone else who has ever had it.  It’s the perfect dish to take to a picnic, and is fancy enough to be plated at a dinner party and down-to-earth enough to be dished out at a potluck.

I brought this to work the other day, and one of the security guards was seriously puzzled about the presence of fruit on a salad.  Another guard looked at her and shook his head, saying, “That’s a yankee thing.”

YES! IT IS! I thought.  I wear my yankee pride as a badge of honor, Arkansas. 

Anyway.  This salad gets rave reviews pretty much everywhere I go. And, since I’ve made it about a thousand times, I’ve perfected this recipe to its ultimate best.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Pears, Cored and Chopped
  • 1 Red Onion, Diced
  • 4oz Goat Cheese Crumbles
  • 1/2 Cup of Dried Cranberries
  • 6 cups Spring Mix Greens, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Pecans

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice from 1 Lemon (or 3Tbs)
  • 1 TBS Honey (optional)
  • 3 TBS White Wine Vinaigrette
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roast Pecan halves for 8-10 minutes, or until they start to darken and become aromatic. NOTE: If you do NOTHING else according to this recipe, toast those friggin nuts!  I made this salad for years without that crucial step.  The first time I toasted the pecans, Sean’s eyes popped out of his head.  Now, if I make this salad for him, he always asks “Did you toast the nuts???!”  It’s worth it.  Even if you burn them a little bit.  That smoky flavor is ballin’.

_DSC0909Next, combine the chopped pears, goat cheese, cranberries, onions and chopped greens in a large bowl. Make sure to chop the greens into fairly small pieces. In order to get a full bite of each of the ingredients, you need them to mix together and that won’t happen if you have huge chunks of spinach separating your flavors.

In a separate bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk rapidly until thoroughly incorporated. When the pecans are cooled, add to the vegetable mix. Pour the dressing over the salad right before you serve it, and make sure you mix well to coat evenly.

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I’ll admit this much.  Sometimes I’m lazy.  Sometimes I don’t want to make my own salad dressing.  I know it’s not hard, I know it only takes five minutes, but sometimes, I just don’t want to get all of the ingredients out and whip a bunch of stuff into a bowl.  For days like that, I use Marzetti’s Simply Dressed Lemon Vinaigrette.  It’s so good, and mostly real ingredients.  I feel no shame.

When we eat this salad for dinner, I grill a couple of chickens on the George Foreman and chop them up on top.  If I’m taking it to a party, I leave off the protein and call it a side.

I love this salad. I love it so much that I’m a little sad I just gave out the recipe.  Now everyone knows how easy it is, and I run the risk of bumping into someone with the same salad.

In other news, I started to write this while Sean was on the phone with his sister, but now he is soundly asleep on the floor of the office behind me, with a dog on each side.  I’m reallllllllly going to miss this man.

 

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Lawyer, writer, food lover. Welcome to the right side of my brain!

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