The arrival of the crisp cool October air flips a switch in my brain causing me to crave totally different foods than I’ve been eating the past few months. It’s now time for pumpkins, butternut squash, apples, pears, sweet potatoes and maple syrup, to name few.
This salad was served to me a couple of years ago at a friend’s dinner party and I was blown away by it. It was a simple, first course of a fabulous multi-course meal, but it’s the dish that I couldn’t get off my mind. Last week when my seasonal cravings kicked into high gear, with pears and maple syrup on my mind, I turned to this and the “sweet & heat” totally satisfied….
Spiced Pecan Pear Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup pecan halves
Maple Mustard Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 cups Mixed Salad Greens
6 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 Bartlett Pears, cut into 1/4" slices
Black pepper, to taste
Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; add oil, and stir. Add pecans and toss until well coated. Bake at 350 on a sheet for 12-15 minutes. (You might want to stir/toss them at the half way point.) Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside.
Combine salad greens and dressing in a large bowl and toss. Divide salad evenly among 6 plates. Sprinkle each with cheese, pecans, and black pepper. Top with pear slices and serve.
*slice pears as close to serving time as possible and to further prevent browning, put in a bath of lemon water (1/2 lemon in one medium bowl of cold water)