When it comes to being Type A, I’m off the charts. I have my lists (and, let’s be honest, meticulously outlined sublists, too) and I cling to them like a raft in a river of chaos. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since having my son, it’s that toddlers care as much about to-do lists as they do about coloring within the lines.
Some days, he just needs to be outside looking at all of the bugs, which doesn’t really lend itself to hours preparing dinner. Other days, it may be cold germs interrupting my best intentions. And slowly but surely, I’m learning to roll with those punches and adapt.
That’s kind of why I love this salad. It’s a keep-your-options-open kind of salad. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be (or as your toddler wants it to be). The basics are mixed greens, sliced pears, Gorgonzola cheese and toasted nuts.
Are there Legos scattered over every square foot of your home? Use a store-bought vinaigrette like balsamic or raspberry. But if you have an extra half hour because you got off work early or your little boy is reverently watching the road construction trucks outside your house, I can’t encourage you enough to whip up this simple cranberry vinaigrette included in the recipe below (because after all, it’s fall, and cranberries are gorgeous). And while you're at it, you really should maple-glaze some bacon to throw in the salad.
The flavors and textures in this salad were pretty much meant to be together. The sweetness of the pears, the creaminess of the cheese, the crunch of the toasted nuts and maple bacon—all topped with tangy cranberry vinaigrette. It could be the simple dinner ending to your most chaotic of days or the perfect autumnal start to your complex holiday meal.
Fall Pear Salad with Maple Bacon, Gorgonzola and Toasted Nuts
By: Liz Berget of Carpé Season
4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds), toasted
6 to 8 cups mixed greens (I suggest a mix that includes arugula)
1 to 2 medium pears cored and thinly sliced (cut just before serving to keep it from browning)
4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
¼ cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 garlic clove
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange bacon in single layer. Bake 15 minutes or until starting to brown. Remove from oven; brush bacon with maple syrup on both sides. Return to oven for additional 3 to 5 minutes or until bacon is sticky and browned. Remove from oven; let drain on wire rack over baking sheet. Cool. Crumble and set aside.
2. Heat small pan over medium-high heat. Add nuts; stir frequently about 3 minutes or until nuts are fragrant and just beginning to brown. Transfer to plate; cool.
3. Mince cranberries and garlic finely in food processor. Add remaining vinaigrette ingredients; process until smooth.*
4. Assemble plates with mixed greens, toasted nuts, pear slices, cheese and maple bacon. Drizzle with dressing.**
TIPS *If you don't have a food processor, finely mince the cranberries and garlic. Add them along with remaining dressing ingredients to tightly lidded jar and shake until combined.
** Refrigerate extra dressing in sealed container for up to 1 week.
4 (1 ½ to 2-cup) servings