Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing

Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing

I believe the jury may still be out on whether or not salad is allowed at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

I happen to love salad at Thanksgiving. But it has to be a really good salad to justify a spot. This amazing romaine salad and my favorite, favorite spinach salad come to mind as worthy options.

But since I’m a girl who likes to explore new recipe territory, I’m here to report that today’s autumn pear salad might just be the next Thanksgiving salad star.

Holy moly, this salad is good. Something about ripe, juicy pears nestled in salad makes me happy and this recipe is further amped up by pomegranate arils, little nubbins of Asiago cheese and crunchy bits of toasted cashews.

And that maple dressing? It’s become a total staple in my refrigerator (the other day I accidentally dipped my cucumber slices in it and was almost undone with the deliciousness).

Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing

If you’re wanting a very simple yet absolute show-stopper of a salad, this is it.

And if you are already thinking of how to use up those turkey leftovers, save this salad until the after-party; chop up the leftover turkey, toss it in with the salad and you’ll have your dinner (or lunch) made in minutes just sitting there staring you in the face and waiting for your taste buds to explode with excitement.

And if you are feeding a bunch of traditionalists at Thanksgiving, I double dog dare you to throw this salad out there and see what happens (triple dog dare you to replace their green bean casserole with it).

Hey, the worst that could happen is you’ll be out in the garage alone eating this straight out of the bowl. Not a bad way to go, if you ask me.

Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing

One Year Ago: Warm Russian Tea
Two Years Ago: Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins {a.k.a. Carrot Cake Muffins}
Three Years Ago: Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing

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Ingredients:

Maple Balsamic Dressing:

  • 1 medium garlic clove, scored (meaning the surface of the clove is lightly cut a few times)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk (see note)
  • Pinch of coarse, kosher salt

Salad:

  • 6-8 cups chopped green and red leaf lettuces
  • 2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces Asiago cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (or shredded)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped, toasted cashews
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (craisins or dried cherries would be a good substitute)

Directions:

  1. For the dressing, put the scored garlic clove in a jar and add all the other dressing ingredients. Put a lid on the jar and shake like your life depends on it. Refrigerate until ready to serve (this can be made a week or so in advance). Shake to recombine ingredients before using. If the dressing is overly thick out of the fridge, microwave it for 5-10 seconds to help loosen it up.
  2. For the salad, add the lettuce to a large bowl. Drizzle some of the dressing over the lettuce until lightly coated. Add the pears, cheese, cashews and pomegranate arils to the top and just lightly toss. Drizzle on extra dressing to taste. Serve immediately.
  3. Alternately, you can toss all the salad ingredients together and serve the dressing separately for individuals to add as they like.

Notes:

You could definitely try this with a lower fat milk if that’s what you have on hand but the dressing will be slightly less thick and the flavor won’t be quite as full.

All images and text ยฉ.

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Recipe Source: salad and dressing slightly adapted from Emily B., a longtime MKC reader – thank you, Emily!