This is a delicious salad with so many good things; tender bibb lettuce, caramelized pecans, a good blue cheese and ripe, fresh pears. Another favorite chef of mine is Art Smith (former personal chef of Oprah’s) and I have adapted his recipe to my taste. He has two excellent cookbooks full of homey recipes. As of Dec. 2013 he has one more cookbook to his name and this time it has lots of “healthy” recipes.
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup (Karo)
- 1 tbsp. honey
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans on a piece of foil on a baking sheet and heat the nuts for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, pick up the foil and pour the pecans into a small bowl; add the honey and corn syrup mixture; stir well to coat.
Place back on the baking sheet; separate the nuts as much as possible and cook another 5 minutes. They will be very sticky and shiny. Separate the nuts more if needed and cool completely. These are also great to just munch on!
Candied walnuts on the left and candied pecans on the right!
Dijon Riesling Dressing
- 1 tbsp. mayonnaise (I always use Hellmann’s Light)
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup Riesling Vinegar (Art recommends Cuisine Perel Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar – I had to order this brand online; a champagne or white wine vinegar would be fine to use)
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste (I never add)
Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and garlic; add the vinegar. Slowly add the olive oil while stirring to combine with a whisk.
- bibb lettuce
- pears, peeled, cored and cut into matchstick-size pieces (see comment below)
- blue cheese (Maytag is one of the best), crumbled
- caramelized pecans
For 6 people, use about 4 heads of bibb lettuce (Meijer’s has a lettuce they call living lettuce which is what I use). Any soft and tender lettuce would be fine instead. Toss the lettuce with dressing to coat lightly. Divide among 6 small plates and sprinkle equal amounts of cheese, pears and nuts over the top of each salad.
Firm varieties of pears are Anjou and Bosc and they are best for poaching, baking and grilling. Softer pears such as Bartlett and Comice are better eaten fresh or in salads.