So here is another one that was originally on my other blog a last year. It’s a salad that I love to serve at dinner parties. Something about a poached pear that seems to wow people (though who knows why as they are super simple).
It’s extra nice this time of year as everything can be made ahead of time and then the salad can be put together last minute. Which with as busy as I have been sounds like a really good thing to me right about now.

Poached Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Spiced Caramel Walnuts and Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Salad greens
poached pears(recipe follows)
blackberry jam vinaigrette(recipe follows)
spiced caramel walnuts(recipe follows)
blue cheese( however much you like)

Poached Pears

2 ripe Green Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
1 ½ cups Pinot Gris(I used A to Z from here in the PNW)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Port wine
2 whole cloves

Bring wines, sugar and cloves to a boil(making sure the sugar dissolves) and then bring to a simmer. Poach pears for 15 minutes. Remove ¾ cup of the liquid and reserve. Leave the pears in the liquid while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette

¾ cup poaching liquid from the pears
2 TBSP cider vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp garlic
¼ cup blackberry jam

Cook reserved pear liquid(make sure no cloves are in there) until reduced by half. In a blender or Cuisinart mix reduction with blackberry jam, vinegar, garlic and some salt to taste. While blender is running, slowly add the oil.

Spiced Caramel Walnuts

1 cup walnuts
½ cup sugar
½ tsp chile powder
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp sea salt

Combine sugar with the spices. Place into a saucepan and turn on medium heat. Watch carefully to see the sugar start to caramelize around the edges of the pan. When that happens throw in the walnuts and stir. When they are coated in caramel spread onto a pan that has been covered in parchment paper. Once it is completely cooled, break into pieces.

To put the salad together:
 Place a little bit of vinaigrette onto the bottom of the plate(this insures that the bottom greens get some of the good stuff too). Slice poached pear half in half. The slice each quarter and fan out placing it in the middle of the greens. Garnish with walnuts and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle desired amount of vinaigrette.

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