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Grilled Pear Salad Recipe with Blue Cheese & Pecans

Salads have been on my mind quite a bit lately.  I haven’t made as many as I’ve thought about, but I’m gathering all those ideas and want to get to the point where I am posting one salad recipe per week.  That seems doable, right?  Endless possibilities with salads.

The initial inspiration for this grilled pear salad recipe came via a small jar of leftover toasted pecans that I had on hand.  I made some iced cream a couple of weeks ago and had a few toasted pecans left over that I definitely couldn’t let go to waste. That borders on blasphemy!! Pecans are such a precious item – not cheap and so diverse, so tasty.

Pears, blue cheese and pecans are about as natural a fit as peas and carrots.  The three together are a classic combination of ingredients, and I wanted to make those the focal point of my salad.  We’ll take a closer look at the ingredients and learn a little more about each.

Salad topped with grilled pears, blue cheese and pecans

Let’s start with the pears.  Fall is the peak time of year of pears so we’re right on time with this recipe.  There are three main types of pears you’ll find at the grocery store:  Green AnjouBartlett, and Bosc. While there are several other varieties that can be found at speciality grocery stores, by and large these are the three you’ll have to choose from (if indeed your selection is so broad).

The Green Anjou and Bartlett varieties are the softer, sweeter type of pear that you typically munch on for a snack.  Bosc is my preferred cooking pear.  It’s make up is a bit more sturdy and for me, ideal for the grill.  You can also eat the Bosc pears raw.  They are less sweet than the other varieties, but still very tasty.  It’s a different type of pear experience, but one I like!

If you want to learn more about pears (much more!), visit the Pear Bureau’s website.  They have a blog, newsletter, recipes, nutrition and educational info.  Definitely a great resource for anyone looking to learn more or teach about pears.

So I decided to grill my Bosc pears on my handy-dandy stove top cast-iron griddle.  I bought it for a mere $10 at Academy a couple of weeks ago (yay!!).  I only used one pear in this recipe for two salads but if you want to use more, feel free.  Each pear will yield roughly six 1/8″ slices.  I recommend keeping the peeling on too.  It’s prettier, and you keep more nutrients that way.  Also, keeping the skin on will give these pears even more structure and make grilling much easier.  Make sure you adequately heat your grill before trying to cook these pears.  I recommend 3-5 minutes of pre-heating at least.

Now that our pears are squared away, let’s talk about blue cheese.  We discussed blue cheese in our stuffed tomatoes post, but in case you didn’t read that one, let’s talk again.  I originally purchased the blue cheese used in that recipe for this recipe.  The stuffed tomatoes were a secondary idea I got from having that blue cheese on hand.  Great when things work out that way!

Now, on to the blue cheese talk.  A good blue cheese is a tasty blue cheese – that’s my motto.  Quality matters with blue cheese.  Cheap blue cheese is going to taste like….well, cheap blue cheese.  Spending just a few more dollars per pound will definitely pay off in the flavor department and make a much finer finished product.

For this recipe, I used Valdeón.  It’s Spanish and is an extremely tasty, budget friendly blue cheese.  Other acceptable substitutes for Valdeón in this recipe are Point Reyes (California, USA), Stilton (English), or Maytag (Iowa, USA).  For those of you reading closely, yes those are the same cheeses from the stuffed tomato post.  We’re using the same concept here of blue cheese prominence so those cheeses will be great subs if you can’t find Valdeón.

If you’ve read ahead you may notice that I used fig balsamic vinegar in the dressing. I received that bottle of black gold from Aunt Pam and Uncle Mike as part of my “half birthday” present. The kind I have is from Oliver’s out in California.  It is so sweet, tangy and tasty that I can eat it by the spoonful.  But I don’t because I don’t have a huge bottle.  I WOULD IF I DID.  Really, it’s that tasty. Also, don’t fret if you don’t have fig balsamic vinegar or can’t find it.  Regular balsamic vinegar will do fine.  But I did happen to notice that you can get it at Williams-Sonoma so it should be within reach for most people.  Worth the purchase, I promise.

 Tips:

  • All of the quantities of ingredients in this salad can be adjusted to suit your taste. If you want more or less of anything, go for it!
  • This salad is best if prepared and eaten immediately.
  • You can easily toast the pecans in a toaster oven for about 2-3 minutes.  Don’t burn them because they won’t be edible.
  • If you have a different type of lettuce or green that you prefer better than the ones I’ve listed, use that one.  These toppings will taste good on any lettuce.

OK, we’ve got the major ingredients covered so now on the tasty recipe…

Yield: 2 entrée-sized salads

Grilled Pear Salad Recipe with Blue Cheese and Pecans

In this grilled pear salad recipe, crisp fresh greens are topped with luscious Valdeon cheese and toasted pecans. Great salad for a quick and healthy meal.

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar (sub regular balsamic if needed)
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt

Grilling the Pears:

  • 1 Bosc pear, cored, halved and sliced about 1/8″ thick
  • 1 teaspoon light olive oil
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt

Croutons:

  • 4 thin slices of baguette (about 1/8″ thick)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • A light sprinkle of Slap Ya Mama seasoning

Finishing the Salads:

  • 1-5 ounce container of lettuce (arugula or chopped super greens mix, preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pecan pieces
  • 2 tablespoons good quality blue cheese (such as Valdeón)

Method:

  1. Dressing – I suggest you make this first and you can actually make this ahead of time.  Place all ingredients in a squeeze bottle or container with a lid.  Shake right before dressing your greens.
  2. Grilling pears – Heat grill over medium high heat. Make sure it is completely hot.  Place pears at an angle to the grill lines.  Cook 3 minutes per side.  Try to turn only once for best looking pears. Remove from heat and set aside for plate up.
  3. Croutons – while the pears are grilling, mix together the butter, garlic and Slap Ya Mama seasoning in a small cup or bowl.  Lightly smear on the baguette slices.  Toast the slices in a toaster oven or broiler until at your preferred level of doneness (i.e. brownness and crispness).
  4. Setting the salad – Toss the greens with most of the vinaigrette.  Divide the greens between the two plates.  Top with the pecan pieces and blue cheese.  Fan the pears on the salad and finish with the remaining dressing and two slices of crouton.  Enjoy!

Prep:20 min

Cook:15 min

Total:35 min

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