When you're making salad, your job is to gather the right group of ingredients together and give them a casual toss. Indeed, the very best salads ultimately transcend the sum of their parts not through process or complex technique, but rather by means of culinary magic. Pair the funky umami of anchovy and Parmesan with the sweet crunch of romaine and you have the great Caesar. The counterintuitive combination of apples, celery, grapes and walnuts gives rise to the immortal Waldorf. And the simple layering of tomato, mozzarella and basil results in the ultra-classic Caprese.
Here, ripe pears, crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, fresh tarragon and aged balsamic sing a beautiful song by hitting all the notes — sweet, salty, bitter, sour, creamy, crunchy, fruity, funky and herbaceous — in perfect harmony.
If you enjoy this salad and think it deserves a special name, to be emblazoned for posterity on the salad walk of fame, please do leave it in the comments.
- 3 ounces baby romaine lettuce
- 2 ounces escarole
- 1 ounces radicchio
- 1 large pear (ripe but still firm, cut into half-inch pieces)
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Meanwhile, wash and dry the greens. Tear or cut the leaves into large but still bite-sized pieces, add them to a large bowl, and toss to mix well.
Toast the walnuts at 350 F for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Roughly chop and set them aside to cool.
Divide lettuce between four plates.
Arrange most of the pears, walnuts, blue cheese, and tarragon leaves over the lettuce, reserve a small portion for final touches.
Combine the the oil, vinegar, and mustard in a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake vigorously. Alternately, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small, non-reactive bowl.
When the dressing looks well-emulsified, taste it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Shake, taste, and repeat until happy.
Drizzle the dressing lightly over the salad. Serve the rest alongside so dinner guests can add more if they like.
Place the remaining fruit, nuts, cheese and tarragon among the leaves, and serve immediately.