1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
5 cups mixed escarole and frisée, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cupwalnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 ouncespiccante blue cheese, crumbled
Makes:6 to 8 servings
This salad is a classic fall pairing of walnuts, blue cheese, and pears, but with a twist: spiced poached fruit. The poaching liquid is also used in the dressing, for twice the spiced flavor.
Game plan: Though it’s fine to toss everything together, some ingredients in the salad may get lost in the bottom of the bowl, so we opt for serving it composed (a.k.a. arranged).
What to buy: Piccante blue cheese is older than the sweeter dolce variety and has a washed rind that is thicker and drier. The cheese delivers a spicy flavor and strong aroma that complement the vinaigrette.
1Combine all of the ingredients except the pears in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stems intact.
2When the poaching liquid boils, reduce the heat to low and add the pears, laying them on their sides so that they are almost completely submerged. Turn the pears occasionally so that they cook evenly and poach until they just give way when pierced with a knife, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
3Cool the pears in the poaching liquid for 20 minutes, rotate them, and leave for 20 minutes more. Remove the pears from the liquid, cut them in half, core, and cut into large dice; set aside.
For the dressing:
1Whisk the poaching liquid, vinegar, measured salt and pepper, and sugar in a small, nonreactive bowl. While constantly whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil until it’s completely incorporated. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
To assemble the salad:
1Place the greens in a large mixing bowl, add the dressing, and toss to coat.
2Divide the greens among serving plates. Top with the reserved diced pear, walnuts, and cheese, then serve.