Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Salad of Pears, Toasted Hazelnuts & Goat Cheese

Serves  4
Fall Salad of Pears, Hazelnuts, Shallots, Golden Raisins & Goat Cheese
For the vinaigrette:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
1 large pinch ground cinnamon
1 tsp dark brown sugar
2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbl vegetable oil
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the rest of the salad:
mixed greens (such as baby spinach, butter lettuce or radicchio), torn into
    bite-sized pieces, enough for four people
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
about 1/3 cup golden raisins
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
about 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
Make the vinaigrette: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the mustard, vinegar, thyme, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar, a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Whisk together the ingredients, and slowly pour in the olive oil, then the vegetable oil, both in a thin stream, whisking as you pour.  The dressing can be made ahead and stored about five days, refrigerated in an airtight container.
Toast the hazelnuts: Spread the raw hazelnuts on a parchment-lined sheet tray and roast in a 350°F oven until toasted and aromatic, about fifteen minutes or so, rotating the pan about half-way through.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.  Removing the skins can be a real hassle, so just try your best – I like a bit of skin left on anyways.  Here’s a handy trick through.  Take a handful of cool, toasted hazelnuts and, holding them over the colander bowl of a salad spinner, rub them between your hands to remove as much of the skin as possible.  Place in the colander, then repeat with the rest of the nuts, Give the salad spinner a few spins and the papery skins will separate out from the nuts.  Discard the skins.

Assemble the salad: Combine the greens, and most of the sliced shallots, raisins, goat cheese, hazelnuts and sliced pears in a large bowl. (I say most because you’ll want to keep a little bit left over to top the salads. It’s always nice to have some of the pretty stuff right on top.) Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette on top, enough to evenly but thinly coat the greens. (You definitely won’t not need to use it all – Save the rest for another salad.)  Season with a good pinch of salt and a few good grinds of pepper. Toss to coat.  Serve immediately.