Here is a terrific salad for a special holiday or New Year’s Eve dinner…our roasted pear and butternut squash salad with an apple cider port vinaigrette. I add a few dried cranberries and my favorite bleu cheese…Black River Bleu cheese, to complete the salad.
You can make the vinaigrette, pears and squash ahead of time then assemble it when you are ready to serve it. Add a piece of grilled chicken and you have a great luncheon dish.
- 3 pears, ripe but still firm, halved, skin on
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Roasted Squash
- 1 small butternut squash (try to get one with a long neck)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoons port or red wine
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- salt and a pinch of White pepper to taste
- 3 cups of mixed greens
- dried cranberries or dried Door County cherries
- 3/4 cup good quality bleu cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (we use Black River Bleu cheese from Wisconsin which is available in Door County at Main Street Market in Egg Harbor and the Top Shelf Gourmet in Sister Bay)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 teaspoon melted butter
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
- a few drops of water, if needed
To make the pears
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. If using foil, spray lightly with nonstick food spray (PAM). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, carefully remove the seeds and core. Thinly slice the pears and fan them out on the prepared sheet pan. Brush lightly with lemon juice.
Brush the pears with some of the prepared vinaigrette (instructions below) and roast until just tender but still firm…..about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove and use immediately. You can also make these several hours again and pop in a low oven (250 degrees) for a few minutes to rewarm. Brush with a bit more vinaigrette when rewarming.
To make the butternut squash
Peel the squash, halve, and remove seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2 inch pieces. I usually use just the long neck and reserve the bottom portion for soup as it is more difficult to cut.
Roast for about 12 to 14 minutes or until tender but not too soft. Remove either use immediately, or cool and store in refrigerator until ready to use. I like to store them in a tupperware container but in a fairly even layers so they retain their shape. Can be made several days ahead.
To make the vinaigrette dressing
Place on medium heat and simmer until reduced to a syrup. You will have about 1/4 cup of liquid left after reducing. Note – In my photos, I am preparing a larger quantity of the vinaigrette, pears and squash.
Add the garlic, mustard and vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil a little at a time. Season with a touch of salt and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. If too sweet, add a bit more vinegar and olive oil.
To prepare the sugared nuts
Heat the butter in a saute pan. When melted, add the nuts.
Sprinkle with sugar and a touch of water. Toss to combine and coat the nuts.
Immediately place the nuts on the prepared pan and spread them out. Let the dry out for about 1 hour then store in an airtight container or in a plastic, zip lock bag. The nuts will keep for several days and up to a week.
To plate the salads
Place the greens in a large salad bowl. Add the dried cranberries, nuts and blue cheese. Drizzle with enough dressing to just coat. I like to use Wisconsin made Black River Bleu Cheese…a multiple award winning cheese made right here in Wisconsin!. If you are in Door County, this terrific cheese is available at the Main Street Market in Egg Harbor and The Top Shelf Gourmet at the Country Walk Shops in Sister Bay.
Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator. It will keep for another week.