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Are you a little timid around blue cheese, but determined to break your fear?
The trick is to not eat it on its own!
Rather, you should employ a clever strategy of combining the cheese with other ingredients that will balance its strong flavor and pungent aroma.
Making a salad is an easy method for building and layering flavors and textures – there is a playful collaboration among each individual item to yield a fresh and dynamic final dish that isn’t overpowered by a single component.
Let this baby greens salad with Roquefort and pears guide you to harmonious happiness!
Salty and strong, sultry and spicy, Roquefort is a French sheep’s milk blue cheese with an intense bite and creamy texture.
Because Roquefort has been granted name-protected status in 1925, there is a multitude of rules and restrictions surrounding its production in order to protect and promote its historical, cultural, and geographical heritage.
One defining feature of this product is that it must be produced with unpasteurized whole sheep’s milk of the Lacaune breed, and this milk must come from certain departments in France.
Another key regulation is that the wheels must be aged for a minimum of 90 days, and every wheel must be exposed during this aging process for a minimum of two weeks in the natural caves of Mont Combalou in France’s Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
The fungus used for its production – what gives Roquefort its beautiful blue-green mold – may only be Penicillium roqueforti, directly obtained from these caves.
You can learn more about Roquefort, and some of its many specific regulations, in Liz Thorpe’s “The Book of Cheese: The Essential Guide to Discovering Cheeses You’ll Love,” which is available now on Amazon.
While the rules for the making and aging of Roquefort are heavily monitored, there are no restrictive policies for how you should enjoy it!
But we certainly have our own suggestions with this recipe…
A bed of baby greens provides the soft and tender home for all of the toppings.
Fresh pears and blue cheese are destined for greatness as a couple, as the juiciness and sweetness of the ripe fruit is the exact contrast this particularly abrasive cheese desires.
Toasted pecans bring a deeply nutty, subtly smoky flavor as well as a lightly crunchy texture, all of which proudly stand up to the cheese’s own strong character.
And a made-from-scratch shallot vinaigrette with champagne vinegar is the preferred style of dressing needed to cut through Roquefort’s rich creaminess.
A little bit of freshly cracked salt and pepper is the finishing touch before serving.
There’s nothing to fear here. After a few bites of this fresh and simple – yet thoughtfully planned – medley of ingredients, you’ll wish you started adding blue cheese to your salads years ago!Print
Unlock harmonious happiness with our baby greens salad, a clever combo of pungent Roquefort, ripe pears, toasted nuts, and a shallot vinaigrette.
For the Vinaigrette:
- 1 small shallot, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
For the Salad:
- 1/3 cup pecan halves
- 5 ounces baby greens
- 2 ripe medium pears, cored and sliced
- 4 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
For the Vinaigrette:
- Combine the diced shallot and champagne vinegar in a small bowl. Allow to macerate at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
- Whisk in the olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the Salad and Final Assembly:
- While the shallots are macerating, heat a small skillet over medium heat on the stovetop. Place the pecans in the skillet and toast, stirring the nuts constantly, until they are aromatic and lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the nuts to a small heatproof cutting board and allow to cool completely. Coarsely chop them.
- Divide the baby greens among four bowls or plates. Top each pile with an equal amount of pear slices, crumbled Roquefort, and pecans.
- Directly before serving, drizzle an equal amount of vinaigrette over each salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keywords: salad, pear, roquefort, blue cheese, pecans, shallot
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Macerate the Shallots
Never prepped a shallot before? Use the same techniques when you prep any kind of bulbous onion.
Combine and stir together the shallots and champagne vinegar in a small bowl. Let this mixture macerate at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring once about halfway through macerating.
This maceration process with vinegar mellows out the abrasive sting of the shallots, bringing out its subtle sweetness – you can use this method with any variety of onion if it will be served raw in a recipe. Try it the next time you’re topping tacos, chili, and more with raw onions!
Step 2 – Toast and Chop the Pecans
As the shallots macerate, this is the perfect time to toast the pecans and allow them to thoroughly cool.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat on the stovetop. Place the pecans in the skillet and toast them until they are aromatic and lightly browned. Be sure to stir the nuts constantly so they toast evenly and don’t burn. This will only take about one or two minutes.
Transfer the nuts to a heatproof cutting board and allow them to cool completely. If they remain in the hot skillet, they will continue cooking and may potentially burn.
Coarsely chop the cooled pecans.
Step 3 – Make the Vinaigrette
After the shallots have completed macerating, add the olive oil into the bowl and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set the vinaigrette aside.
It can stay out at room temperature if you’re going to assemble the salads right away.
You are able to make the vinaigrette ahead of time for meal prep purposes and store it up to one week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
The oil may congeal in the refrigerator, so let the vinaigrette sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving. Give it a vigorous whisk before moving to the next step.
Step 4 – Prep the Remaining Ingredients
To keep the salad as fresh as possible, it’s best to slice the pears and assemble everything together now – directly before serving – rather than ahead of time.
Use a clean cutting board to core and thinly slice the pears. Crumble the Roquefort cheese by hand.
Use your favorite variety of sweet pear, and make sure it’s ripe enough to serve in an uncooked format – Bosc, Comice, Anjou, and Bartlett are all tasty options!
Step 5 – Assemble and Serve
When you’re ready to serve, divide the salad greens among four bowls or plates. Top each pile of greens with an equal amount of pear slices, Roquefort crumbles, and toasted pecans.
Drizzle an equal amount of vinaigrette over each salad – this will be about 1 1/2 tablespoons per salad.
Season each dish to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Change the Cheese
Roquefort may not be the best blue cheese for you – and that’s fine!
If you prefer a different style, consult your local monger or take the time to shop your options at your grocery store.
You may prefer something firmer, lighter, and brighter made with cow’s milk, along the lines of a Danish blue cheese.
But you might like Stilton, with its dense and fudgy texture. It will be nuttier and sweeter than Roquefort, perfect if you prefer a blue that isn’t too aggressive.
This is your opportunity to explore new cheeses, ones that you might never have tried before. And it would be even better if you could request a quick sample of one or two – don’t be afraid to ask!
Does blue cheese give you the blues, or are you an avid supporter of this pungent style? How do you like to use it in dishes? Leave a comment below!
When they’re succulent and ripe, who can resist incorporating pears into one’s diet all the time? Take a peek at three more delectable pear recipes when this fruit is in season and plentiful:
- Ricotta Pear Stacks
- Healthy Whole Grain Pear Hazelnut Muffins (Vegan)
- Hasselback Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Pears
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 25, 2015 by Lorna Kring. Last updated on September 19, 2023.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.