My favorite simple fall salad dressing was created quite unexpectedly. I was given a fancy bottle of white balsamic vinegar infused with pear. That’s what it said on the label, but I never tasted any hint of pear. It sat in my pantry for a while, unused. But at some point, I was asked to bring a salad to a dinner, and had purchased a pear to cut up on top. My forward planning got the better of me and the pear ripened so much waiting for its star turn that it was too soft to cut into nice chunks. Scanning the pantry to try and rescue my salad, I saw that fancy vinegar and thought maybe I could use it and the soft pear to dress the salad. This vinaigrette was the result, and it has become a firm family favorite.
This is particularly good on dark leafy spinach, and I love to add to the fall flavor by tossing the salad with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, a little blue cheese, and if you have fresh pear, some nice juicy chunks. And this is a great way to use up that last pitiful, lonely soft pear left in the fruit bowl. Oh, and if you happen to have a bottle of pear-infused white balsamic, feel free to use it.
Fresh Pear Vinaigrette
Walnut oil adds a nice depth and nuttiness, but if you don’t have any, use all olive oil.
1 large ripe pear, peeled and cored
Juice of one small lemon
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup white wine or white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup walnut oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Cut the pear into chunks and drop in the carafe of a blender with the lemon juice. Purée, then add the sugar, salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and blend well. With the blender running, drizzle in the oils until you have a nice, thick emulsified dressing.
The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 8 hours. Shake well before using.
Makes ¾ cups