Here’s a fall salad from the early days of my blog, updated and re-photographed. I’d combined the pears with fennel and blue cheese, and this time I added greens and walnuts. I eat a lot of pears all fall and winter in salads, with oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, in desserts, or just plain out of hand.
When you’re using fennel in a salad you have two choices: raw or cooked. I like the aggressive anise flavor of raw fennel, but my family prefers it cooked, taming the fennel to a mellow sweetness. So this time I braised the fennel in olive oil.
Blue cheese and pears are always a good combination, and this time I had some lovely Cascadia Creamery Prairie Blue cheese on hand (it was not, however, vegetarian since it contained rennet). We got several Cascadia Creamery cheeses from their makers at our town’s street festival and I was sad when they were gone. If they come to the fair again next year I’ll stock up!
- For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste.
- For the salad:
- 1 large head lettuce, washed, spun dry, shredded or 6 oz. prepared baby salad greens
- 1 large or 2 small bulbs fennel or anise, quartered, pithy center removed, white bulbs sliced thinly, feathery tops discarded or saved for another purpose.
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 pears, quartered, centers cut out, sliced into thin wedges.
- 3 oz. artisan blue cheese, crumbled
- Brown the fennel in olive oil in a large pan for about 20 minutes, salt to taste.
- Toss washed, dried, and shredded lettuce with dressing ingredients.
- Arrange salad greens on dinner plates.
- Distribute browned fennel and chopped walnuts on top of greens.
- Add pear slices and sprinkle the blue cheese on top.