poached pear & brie salad

while nothing has been able to knock my fall apple chicken salad with maple mustard vinaigrette out of the top spot as my absolute favorite salad, this one isn't far behind. sweet poached pears, brie, and candied walnuts are a delicious combination - try topping sliced baguette with them and toasting, just enough to melt the cheese. with so much flavor, a basic balsamic vinaigrette tops this salad off perfectly. don't let the time throw you off - you can poach the pears a day or two before and keep them in the refrigerator. assembling the salad itself takes all of 10 minutes.

poached pear & brie salad
adapted from cooking for keeps
90 minutes (almost all of this can be done the day before), serves 4

the pears and vinaigrette can be made a day or two ahead. store the pears in the sugar syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use. this salad is also delicious topped with sliced chicken or turkey breast.

for the pears
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
2 firm pears, like bosc, peeled

for the vinaigrette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

for the salad
6-8 cups mixed greens
4 ounces brie cheese, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup candied walnuts
  1. make the poached pears. bring water, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and pears to a boil in a saucepan. reduce heat, cover, and summer for about 30 minutes or until the pears are tender. remove from heat and let cool for about 1 hour. if using the pears tomorrow, transfer the pears & liquid to a storage container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. when the pears are cool, cut them in half, remove the core and seeds, and then slice lengthwise. store leftover pears in the sugar syrup in the refrigerator.
  3. make the vinaigrette by whisking all of the ingredients together or shaking them in a mason jar. season with salt and pepper.
  4. to assemble the salad, divide the greens evenly among 4 bowls and top each one with one ounce brie, 1 tablespoon walnuts, and half a pear. dress with vinaigrette and serve.

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