Goat Cheese, Walnut and Pear Salad

I scream, you scream, we all scream for goat cheese ice cream, er, salad. This is probably the all-time favorite version, details courtesy of Cook this Book. DON’T skip the homemade dressing, it makes all the difference.

Dressing
1 tablespoon minced shallots
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnut oil

Salad
1/4 cup walnut pieces
2 ripe but firm pears
1/4 pound Boston Bibb, arugula or watercress, torn into bite-size pieces
6 tablespoons soft fresh goat cheese

Go ahead! Have a meal-sized plateful!

For the dressing
Combine the shallots, red wine vinegar and salt in a small, tightly covered jar and set aside to steep until almost ready to use. Just before serving the salad, add the walnut oil to the dressing, fasten the lid tightly and shake well to combine.

For the salad
1. Place the walnut pieces in a small, dry pan over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan from time to time to keep the nuts from scorching, until slightly darkened and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside.

2. Quarter each pear lengthwise and trim the fibrous core from stem to bottom, cutting out the seeds as well. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise and then cut into roughly 1/2-inch crosswise pieces.

3. Place the arugula in a salad bowl and add the goat cheese in rough tablespoon dollops. Add the pears and walnuts and pour 1/2 cup of the dressing over the top. Mix well but gently, taking care not to smear the goat cheese or break up the pear pieces. Taste and add more dressing, if necessary.

4. Divide among four chilled plates, being sure each gets an equal amount of cheese, pears and walnuts. Serve.

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