I've had this post sitting in my drafts for about a month. The photo seriously does not do this recipe justice, so please look at Ina's, who I have to assume was taken by a professional. Then, as fast as you can, make this recipe! This salad was far too delicious to not share with anyone reading this post.
Growing up, my Aunt and Uncle sent my family a Harry and David tower almost every Christmas. My favorite layer was the shortbread cookies, I had no desire to eat the bottom layer full of pears. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that I realized how delicious pears were, and I cursed myself for not enjoying them back when I lived with my parents! When I received a tower from my boss for Christmas, I couldn't wait to break into every layer, especially the pears. Typically I would eat the pears for a snack as they're like candy, but when I saw this recipe, I knew it would elevate the pears into something even more amazing.
Blue cheese is no stranger to pears, neither are walnuts or cranberries, but a marriage of the four is perfection. The baked pears are drizzled with a sweet port reduction that is over the top. We had a bottle of blueberry port on hand that we hadn't yet opened, and it added even more subtle flavor to the dish. The pears sit on a bed of arugula, which offers a nice spicy bite to balance out the sweetness. The recipe calls for baby arugula, but we had a bag of regular arugula from the weekly CSA share.
This salad is elegant and special enough to start a dinner party, but also simple and easy enough to enjoy for any lunch or dinner during the week. Just please, whatever you do, make it as soon as possible!
Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese
a few slight changes, from Ina Garten
3 firm but ripe anjou pears (I used Royal Rivera from Harry and David)
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. walnut halves, toasted and chopped
1/2 c. apple cider
3 tbsp. port
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. arugula
Preheat oven to 375*
Slice pears in half length wise, use a melon baller to remove the core and seeds.
Toss the pears with lemon juice, arrange them core up in a baking dish, they should fit snugly.
In a small bowl, gently toss the blue cheese, cranberries and walnuts, divide equally between pears, mounding into the cored area.
In another dish, whisk together apple cider, port and brown sugar, pour over the pears.
Bake the pears, basting with juices occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until tender.
Remove from the oven and cool until just warm.
Arrange arugula on a serving platter or shallow dish, arrange pears.
Pour basting liquid into a bowl, add olive oil and 1/4 c. lemon juice, whisk together and drizzle over pears, serve the extra on the side.