pear and beet salad Funny story… I prepared this “salad” for an elaborate, multi-course dinner party.  Halfway through chopping the beets, I realized that I forgot to buy lettuce!  My little oversight turned out to be quite an elegant first course.  Try this one out next time you have guests over – just don’t forget any other ingredients!

Makes: 6 guests forget all about greens
Total kitchen time: 10 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 3 ripe Bosc pears, skin on, cleaned well
  • 3 red beets, tops trimmed, skin on
  • 4 Oz. Stilton (a pungent blue cheese)
  • 2 cups candied walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (use the best stuff you have)
  • 2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 twists black pepper
  1. Boil the beets in a large pot of water until they are fork-tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and let the beets cool.  Oh, by the way, you should probably change clothes right about now.  Beets will stain, and you probably don’t want bright red sleeves right before your soirée. 
  2. Peel the beets and chop them into thin slices, as pictured above.  Set aside.
  3. Combine the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar if necessary.
  4. Trim the top 1/2 inch off of the pears.  Slice in half from pole to pole.  Use a melon baller or a metal 1 tsp. measure to remove the seeds from each half of the pear.  Remove the bottom stem by cutting a wedge out of the pear with your knife.
    chopping pears
  5. Slice the pears into 1/8″ pieces and arrange five or six slices on a plate.  Pile a small mound of sliced beets, a bit of stilton and some candied walnuts nearby.  Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette just before serving.

Now, you could add lettuce back to this recipe, but I don’t think it’s needed.  Have fun with the plating too – create a “tower of pears” or a “nest of beets”.  Your first course will set the mood for the rest of the meal, so have fun with it.  Oh, and don’t forget, uh, what was I saying?

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