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Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts

Apples seem to get all the love, don't they?

Let's not forget about another REALLY delicious winter fruit -- the pear.  It's crisp, like an apple, but tends to be a little juicier.   It pairs well in cocktails, desserts, main dishes AND sides. Which means it's REALLY versatile and easy to add to your winter dishes to liven things up a bit.

Oh, and don't even get me started on how they'll liven up your charcuterie boards!

Instead of a margarita, make it a spiced pear margarita.

Slice up a pear, sauté it in brown butter and, VOILA, quick, easy and flavorful dessert.

I LOVE adding fruit to salads and eat salads year 'round.  In the winter, a salad adds freshness to hearty dishes.  It's nice to have a balance of flavors, textures and also temperatures.

Enter, this pear salad with candied walnuts.  It's such a good side dish and goes well with Porcini Braised Chicken Thighs , Steak with Béarnaise Sauce, and Pasta Carbonara.

Next time you're at the grocery store or farmer's market, swing by the pears and pick a few up!  You'll want ones that are hard, not too soft or they'll turn to mush before you can unload your groceries.  Leave them out on your counter until they give a little when you press them.  Similar to how you test an avocado for ripeness.

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If you have any questions, drop them below -- I'm happy to help you!

Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts

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Serves: 4 Total Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3 cups butter lettuce, roughly torn
  • 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 ripe red Anjou pear, thinly sliced
  • Crumbled goat cheese and freshly chopped chives to garnish
  • CANDIED WALNUTS:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Instructions

1

To make the candied walnuts: Place sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and cook until sugar dissolves, stirring until the sugar fully dissolves. Stop stirring and continue softly boiling the sugar until it turns a light caramel brown color. This will only take a couple of minutes, so keep an eye on the sugar! It will burn if you step away and forget about it.

2

Remove caramel from heat; carefully stir in nuts to coat evenly. Spread nuts on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Use a spatula, and, working quickly, spread the walnuts evenly on the parchment or silpat. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside until cool and then break into small pieces.

3

You can make the nuts several days ahead and store in an airtight container in your fridge.

4

To make the salad dressing: Combine vinegar and mustard, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk in a squeeze of lemon juice and taste to see if you need to adjust the seasonings.

5

Add both lettuces to a salad bowl and toss to combine. Top with pear and candied walnuts. Drizzle dressing evenly over salad; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine and serve immediately.

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