september 11, 2019
The morning air is cool, the light fades earlier in the evening and my favorite roadside stand is packed with crisp Asian pears and apples. I am ready to say goodbye to tomato and cucumber salads until next summer and more than ready to embrace the complexity of fall flavors and textures.
This late summer, early autumn salad : crisp pear and apple, tender butter lettuce, crunchy walnuts and creamy blue cheese with a nubby mustard vinaigrette—a party on the plate and easy on the eyes. Good as is or a nice base for grilled proteins topping this early fall salad.
If Asian pears are unavailable, Bosc pears are a good substitute. Apples that give a good snap are best. There were several early varieties to choose from at the stand, so I chose the prettiest of the lot. As I’ve returned, I see the fleeting crisp green Mutsu variety and the tiny yellow Ginger Golds, native to Virginia and one of the earliest stars of the late summer apple stand. Soon cinnamon applesauce will make its entry onto the menus for The Good Eats Company, and apples will be tucked in savory dishes like red curry braised chicken thighs with apple and local cider.
Apples and Asian pears were featured last year in my Autumn Fruit Salad with a five spice creamy dressing and Asian pears were paired with moist and juicy roast chicken in Chicken and Asian Pear Salad a couple of years ago. Whatever is in season, it goes onto the plate and into the bowl with other crisp offerings to create salads year round. My favorite way to eat is to jumble a visual cornucopia into a big ol’ flavorful mess.
If blue cheese is your thing, you know what you like, whether it’s creamy and tangy buttermilk blue or, as in this salad, firm sharp Stilton. If you like other cheeses like feta or chèvre, they will be just as happy atop this pretty salad.
Apple, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes four servings
⅔ cup walnut halves or about 20
1 tablespoon coarse grain mustard
2 tablespoons pure organic apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch fine sea salt
one crisp apple, unpeeled and thinly sliced
one Asian pear, thinly sliced
one small head butter (Boston) lettuce, separated into leaves
4 ounces blue cheese of your choice – Stilton used here
freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spread walnut halves on sheet pan (not insulated) and bake about 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly golden; may be baked up to 1 week ahead, when you are using your oven for another purpose; store tightly covered.
- In small bowl, whisk together mustard, salt and vinegar; gradually whisk in olive oil until combined; may be made up to 2 weeks ahead; allow to come to room temperature before using.
- In large mixing bowl, gently toss together lettuce with pear, apple and walnuts.
- Arrange salad on plates, top with blue cheese and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve immediately.