1/2 cup walnuts (pecans, hazelnuts, etc. may be substituted)
2 firm fresh pears*
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons white wine
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
6 to 8 cups mixed baby salad greens, washed and spun dry
Goat Cheese Croutons (see recipe below)
* You can not judge a pear by the color of its skin. Although a few varieties change from green to yellow as they ripen, others do not change colors at all. Purchase fresh pears that are firm without bruises or spots. Pears are ripe when the skin near the stem yields to gentle pressure. Pears ripen from the inside out, so do not buy soft pears.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a baking sheet, spread nuts in a single layer. Lightly toast nuts approximately 5 to 10 minutes, stirring nuts every minute; remove from oven and let cool. Toasting the nuts makes the crunchier and intensifies their flavor.
Peel and core the pears, then cut into 1/2-inch dice. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the diced pears and sugar; saute, stirring frequently, until the pears start to caramelize a bit, then add the white wine and continue cooking until the pears are just glazed. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the rice vinegar, wine vinegar, walnut or olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper; set aside.
Toss the greens with the dressing and distribute among eight individual serving plates. Spoon the caramelized pears and walnuts around the outside of the greens. Place the warm Goat Cheese Croutons on the center of the greens and serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.
Goat Cheese Croutons Recipe:
1 pound medium-soft goat cheese logs
3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Cut the goat cheese into eight 1/2-inch slices. Tip: Use dental floss to slice the cheese logs cleanly.
Cut the thawed phyllo into long, thin strips (chiffonade). Wrap each goat cheese round in a nest of phyllo strips (they should look a lot like shredded wheat). Place them on lightly oiled baking sheet; set aside. The croutons may be refrigerated, covered, at this point for 1 hour.
When ready to use, preheat broiler. Brush the phyllo/goat cheese rounds with olive oil. Place under broiler in oven until lightly browned; turn them over and brown the other side. Remove from oven and transfer to the individual salads with a spatula.