Holiday Pear Salad

Make this healthy, textured salad for the holidays and throughout the winter months.

Looking for a stunning salad to serve this holiday season? This pear salad with quick candied walnuts and honey miso dressing is a must-try. The concept is easy, but the combination of flavors and textures gives the salad a complex feel. The base is a gorgeous mixture of delicate greens topped with tender and ripe pear, tart dried cranberries, sharp blue cheese crumbles and sweet walnuts. Then, it’s all tossed in a creamy miso dressing that’s packed with slightly sweet, salty flavor. It’s a must-serve for any holiday table.

I make these quick candied walnuts all the time to top salads and soups — or eat as a snack. With a fraction of the sugar in regular candied walnuts, they are just as nutty and sweet. The trick is melting the sugar over the butter-laced walnuts, then allowing them to cool in a single layer. Letting the walnuts sit allows the sugar to caramelize and harden into brittle-like pieces.

Arugula-Pear Salad with Miso Dressing
Yield: 4 servings
Quick Candied Walnuts
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Creamy Miso Dressing
2 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups mixed greens
1 cup shaved fennel bulb
2 ripe pears, sliced thin
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Make the walnuts. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet and add the walnuts, then toss to coat. Stir in the sugar and mix until the sugar has melted and combined with the walnuts. Add the walnuts to the baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Let cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes to harden.

Whisk together the miso, vinegar, honey, water and garlic until very smooth and the miso has dissolved. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until thickened. Set aside.

Toss together the greens, fennel and pears in a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and toss until well-combined. Sprinkle on the blue cheese and cranberries, then plate. Drizzle with the remaining miso dressing and serve immediately.

Per serving (296 g): Calories 435; Fat 32 g (Saturated 6 g); Cholesterol 14 mg; Sodium 478 mg; Carbohydrate 32.3 g; Fiber 7 g; Sugars 18.6 g; Protein 9.6 g

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge ( delishknowledge.com ), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their "Happy Weight." 

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