Tahoe recipe: Caramelized pears and gorgonzola salad
Well, you have survived the first holiday of the season – Halloween. You made a couple of mistakes, number one being you bought all the trick or treat candy you like – the Almond Joys, the Paydays, the mini Snickers and Kit Kats and not a single Nerd Head or Sweet Tart in sight.
Your second big mistake was forgetting you never get a trick or treater – not one! – and now you are stuck with all this great candy staring at you from a festive bowl on the living room table. Before we get to the recipe, let’s deal with that bad bounty. Take it, right now, and put it in the closet to save for stocking stuffers.
This week we are going to give all those goodies your dentist and Jenny Craig “buddy” call job security a rest and get back to salads. Seriously, I can hear you groaning. I can hear things like “shock to my system,” “it’s cold out,” etc. Save it.
We are going to ease back into the salads beginning with a bag mix and topping it off with a fruit that is in season right now — pears. Yes, they are caramelized, but they are not on a stick and dipped in sweet goo. They are just lightly browned in a little bit of sugar. You can do it.
Ingredients for salad base:
1 bag pear and Gorgonzola salad kit mix, available at your local grocer.
Ingredients for spicy orange vinaigrette dressing (optional):
You can use the one provided in the salad kit. It’s not bad. But I usually make this one to doctor it up.
1/4 small sweet onion, preferably Maui but Vidalia is pretty close
1 small jalapeno chile pepper, stemmed and seeded (wash your hands after or, if you hate him, stroke your husband’s hair)
zest of 1 large orange
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon best quality orange marmalade or undiluted frozen orange juice (cheaper)
6 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
12 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt (I love it) or the best you can do
Ingredients for caramelized pear slices (not optional):
Half a stick of unsalted butter
3 Bosc (no other) pears, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Ingredients for add ins:
1/4 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
Preparation for Ccaramelized pears:
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pears, and toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle sugars over pears. Cook, stirring pears occasionally, until golden, about 30 minutes. Set aside to top your salad.
Preparation for salad dressing:
In a blender, puree the onion, chile pepper, orange zest, garlic, and orange marmalade. Add the vinegar, olive oil, and salt, and blend well until frothy. Taste and add desired sweetness or tartness i.e a pinch of sugar or more marmalade, a few more drops of vinegar, and salt. Pour vinaigrette into a squeeze bottle, cap, and refrigerate. Vinaigrette can be made a day ahead.
Big Salad Finalé:
Toss your packaged mix in large bowl with either the included dressing or the Spicy Orange Vinaigrette. Toss again with the 1/4 cup Gorgonzola and the craisins and nuts included in the salad kit. Arrange pear slices on top and serve.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at email@example.com.