Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans

 Circle B Kitchen

This is one extraordinarily delicious salad that is just made for a holiday table, but it’s wonderful any time of the year.  You can make quite a few substitutions to suit your own tastes, namely using apples instead of pears or instead of the sliced red onion called for in the original recipe, I like to add in some pomegranate seeds. Or you can use both!  We’ve made this using all spinach or with mixed greens and both work great, but the spinach holds up really well with the creamy dressing.  I've included a recipe to make your own candied pecans, but you can, of course, use store bought if you find them. 

Ingredients:

1 (10 ounce) bag mixed field greens or spinach
1/2 cup sliced red onion (optional, I like to sometimes substitute pomegranate seeds)
1 Bosc pear, cored and sliced (or you can use an apple)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/2 cup chopped candied pecans (see below for recipe)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
 

Prep:
Make the salad dressing
Candy the pecans, if not using store-bought (chop, if needed)
Slice the red onion, if using
Core and slice the pear (or apple)

Directions:
Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Add the red onion (if using), sliced pears and blue cheese, and toss to mix evenly.  Pour on just enough of the salad dressing to thoroughly coat the greens.  Toss to mix and then sprinkle the top of the salad with the pomegranate seeds (if using), a little more of the blue cheese, if you like, and the candied pecans.

Dressing:
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnut oil (or canola or olive oil)

Place the maple syrup, vinegar, mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a blender, and blend thoroughly. With the motor running, slowly pour in the walnut (or vegetable) oil. Blend until mixture becomes creamy, about 1 minute. 

Candied Pecans
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (I use Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces 

Preheat oven to 325°F. 
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.  Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Bake pecans 10-15 minutes or until pecans are golden and the coating bubbles.  While the pecans bake, place a piece of aluminum foil on your kitchen counter or table.  

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the pecans to the foil. Working quickly, separate the nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)