Composed Salad of Fennel, Oven-Dried Pears, and Maytag Blue Cheese
- 6 Comice pears
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed
- 2 heads red oak leaf lettuce or other soft buttery lettuce, leaves separated, well washed, and dried
- 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces (black walnuts add an interesting touch)
- 1/4 pound Maytag Blue cheese or other blue cheese
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F or its lowest setting. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Peel the pears. Cut them lengthwise in half and carefully remove the cores and stems.
Combine the brown sugar and ginger, mixing well. Generously rub each pear half with the mixture. Lay the coated pears on the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven to dry for about 6 hours, or until the pears are just beginning to dry out but still retain some of their moisture.
Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. Set aside.
Cut the fennel bulbs lengthwise in half, then cut the fennel lengthwise into very thin slices.
Beginning at the flower end, cut each pear lengthwise in half but not through the stem end.
Toss the lettuce and fennel together in a large bowl. Add a small amount of the dressing and toss to coat. Place the lettuce mixture on a large serving plate. Fan the pear halves across the greens, criss-crossing the stem ends. Sprinkle the walnut pieces around the edge of the platter, crumble the blue cheese over the top, and drizzle the remaining dressing over all. Serve immediately.
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