Mixed Lettuces with Anjou Pears, Walnuts, Bleu Cheese, and Pickled Red Onions

I got Sheryl Crow’s new cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy from the library and was perusing the recipes.

They all looked pretty tasty. I wasn’t sure what to try.

When in doubt, ask someone else what looks good!

My dad decided on this salad. It contains many of his favorite elements: blue cheese, red onions, walnuts. Plus, I got to try a few new ingredients and cooking techniques like pickling. I’d never heard of champagne vinegar — but it is quite good and very champagne-y. Plus I discovered I actually like the taste of moldy cheese. Who knew?

Mixed Lettuces with Anjou Pears, Walnuts, Blue Cheese, and Pickled Red Onions

Adapted from Sheryl Crow’s cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy, pg 165

Serves 4

6 cups mesclun

1/2 cup champagne vinaigrette (see below)

2 Anjou pears, sliced and cored, not peeled

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (3-4 ounces)

1/2 cup Pickled Red Onions (see below)

In a large mixing bowl, toss the mesclun with about 1/4 cup of vinaigrette, then divide the greens among 4 plates/bowls. Lay 5-6 slices of pear on top of the greens on each plate, then sprinkle on some walnuts and blue cheese. Finally, place some pickled red onion on in a visually appealing fashion. Drizzle on more vinaigrette and serve.

Champagne Vinaigrette – pg 177

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 small shallot or 1/2 a large one, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Using a blender or food processor, blend the vinegar with shallot, mustard, honey and garlic powder until just mixed.
Put the blender on medium speed and slowly drizzle the oil through the tube while it runs, until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time if it seems to thick; but I didn’t have to do this. Season with salt and pepper, and use immediately or refrigerate (shake/whisk before using).

Pickled Red Onions – pg 221

1 medium red onion, peeled, halved, and julienned/thinly sliced

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Place sliced onion into glass/ceramic/nonreactive bowl large enough to hold the onions plus, later on, the pickling liquid.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water with vinegar, salt, and sugar, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, pour over the onions, covering them. Stir and let stand for 4 hours at room temperature.
After 4 hours, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This salad was really yummy, especially the champagne vinaigrette. The pickled onions were a little strong for me, but if you are like my dad who loves jalapeno peppers and/or hot seeds on everything, you’ll probably like them. I didn’t bother to toast the walnuts… Okay, truth, I tried toasting them in a skillet and then forgot about them, leaving me with lovely burnt walnuts… so, I decided to use raw. All of the various ingredients really complement each other. This meal would especially be good with fresh picked baby lettuces from your garden, if you have one.

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