Maple Roasted Pear & Bacon Salad
with dried cranberries, blue cheese, candied walnuts & a maple dijon white wine vinaigrette
I have had the idea for this salad wandering about in the back of my brain for quite a while. I kept buying pears and meaning to make it, but then ending up using the pears for something else. This particular pear I chanced on was from a goodie box at work that came with a couple pears in it. Everyone ate all the other goodies and, at the end of the day, the pears were still there. So I took them home, along with the pretty box they came in, which made a lovely gift box.
I was extra lucky on New Year’s Day–the weather FINALLY warmed up above zero and it felt so warm! I went to the gym to work out and then when I came home, I was hungry and I thought yes! It’s time to make that roasted pear salad that I’ve been dreaming about.
This dream came from the Roasted Pears with Herbed Goat Cheese & Bacon, when I learned how magical roasted pears were, especially roasted pears with bacon and cheese. I thought … hmmm, THAT on a salad with dried cranberries, blue cheese, candied walnuts and a maple dressing, now THAT would be a fabulous salad.
And I was right. This salad tastes absolutely heavenly. There is a perfect balance of smoky and sweet and tangy, with colors from greens to reds and browns and whites, and oh, all the contrasting textures! Creamy blue cheese, crunchy walnuts and bacon, chewy greens and cranberries, and at the center of it all: soft, tender, juicy, warm roasted pears. To me it was a true masterpiece of flavors, textures and colors, right here in the midst of winter. Warm and comforting and full of healthy salad-y goodness all at the same time.
- 1 pear for each salad
- Real maple syrup
- A bit of cinnamon
- Juice from the roasted pear(s)
- 2 Tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons white wine
- 1/2 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon of bacon fat
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh spinach leaves
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries (craisins)
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons candied walnuts, chopped coarsely (recipe here)
- 1 slice lean, nitrate free bacon, cooked till crisp (per person) and crumbled
- 1 Tablespoon blue cheese or goat cheese crumbles
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice each pear in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to remove the core. Use a knife to scrape down the center line. Set the pears on a baking sheet, brush lightly with maple syrup then give them just a very light dusting of cinnamon.
- Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the pears are nice and tender and juicy. Carefully pour the juices that have collected in the center of the pear halves into a small bowl and then add the vinegar, wine, mustard, maple syrup and seasonings. Whisk together, then add the bacon fat and whisk, then the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking all the time.
- To make the salad: Cover your plate or fill your salad bowl most of the way with spinach leaves. Top with 2 pear halves, then sprinkle with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, bacon crumbles and blue or goat cheese. Drizzle lightly with the dressing and enjoy!
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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