Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Salad Inspirations: Pear Salad with Arugula, Blue Cheese, Candied Almonds and Port Vinaigrette

My inspiration for this salad came from adorable Seckel pears we received from Moceri Produce, one of the exhibitors at The Gourmet Experience. With only two little pears, I decided a salad would be the most appealing way to use them. And, because they were curvy and flawless, they deserved their own photo.

My Inspiration

Pears pair well with cheese, especially Blue, Roquefort and Mascarpone, and nuts, particularly almonds and walnuts. When I spotted Michael Chiarello's Frisee Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese and Port Vinaigrette, with candied almonds, I knew it was the one...Michael, you had me at port vinaigrette. I've been loving arugula in salads lately, so I used that instead of frisee and radicchio. You could also use baby spinach or any mix of baby greens. I also added crispy pancetta. When plating the salad, I felt it needed more color, so I tossed in a few pomegranate arils. This salad has all the right flavors, textures and colors, and the vinaigrette is amazing!

Arugula Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese and Port Vinaigrette

Port Vinaigrette:

1 cup port
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


5 ounces baby Arugula
2 Seckel pears, halved, cored, and very thinly sliced crosswise
2 ounces blue cheese
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 cup candied almonds
1 cup Pomegranate arils

Simmer the Port in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Let cool, then whisk in the red wine vinegar, shallot, and salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Tear the pancetta into smaller pieces and saute over medium heat until crisp.

In a large bowl, toss the arugula and pear. Drizzle with the dressing (you won't need it all), and gently toss until the greens are lightly coated. Divide the salad among 2-4 plates. Crumble the blue cheese over the salad. Scatter the pancetta, candied nuts and pomegranate arils over the salad. Serve immediately.


Two more salad inspirations come from Leroy's, a new restaurant in Coronado. We recently did a food photography shoot for Leroy's, and these two salads are on my list to recreate at home.

...the sweetness of roasted beets, creaminess of the goat cheese, and crunchiness of almond brittle - all those elements come together for a great salad.

Leroy's Local Beets Salad, with Bucheron, Spicy Almond Brittle, Watercress, and Lavender Vinaigrette

Again, a nice marriage of flavor, texture, and color...

Leroy's Watermelon Salad, with Arugula, Watermelon, Heirloom tomatoes, Dry Jack Cheese, and Balsamic


bunkycooks said...

Love all of these ingredients together and of course, the Port Vinaigrette. ;) Your photos are gorgeous. I do think there could be a new career in your future...

Tia said...

Ooooo, sounds absolutely heavenly!