Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Beets and Blackberry Vinaigrette
To capitalize on great-tasting fall seasonal ingredients, try this wonderful Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Beets, and Blackberry Vinaigrette. It is always a hit at my gatherings. Fruity pears join with a few favorite companions – fresh beets, nuts, and blue cheese to tantalize the taste buds. For the blackberry vinaigrette, use a good quality blackberry balsamic. If none is available, substitute a traditional balsamic, fig, or sherry vinegar.
This salad requires a small amount of planning ahead in order to prep the beets. They can be roasted and cooled while the other salad items are being prepped, or done up to 2 days prior to assembling the salad.
Yield: 6 servings (1 – 1 1/2 cups each)
2 large beets (any color; about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds before peeling)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
pinch each of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 cups cored, thinly sliced fresh pears (Bosc, Concorde or Forelle work well)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
1/4 cup blackberry balsamic vinegar (good quality)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 – 7 ounces mixed greens (any combination – spring mix, arugula, frisee, bibb, spinach)
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 cup chopped nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans)
Roast the Beets:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a small baking dish by spraying with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Strip the thyme leaves from the stems; discard stems. Set aside.
- Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one. Cut the beets in half and place into a small mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle the olive oil, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper over the beets. Toss to coat.
- Transfer the beets to the prepared baking dish. Place into the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until the beets are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- When ready to use, slice or dice the beets.
Prepare the Pears:
- Place the pear slices into a small bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the slices and gently toss to coat.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Prepare the Vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot and basil until emulsified.
- Add the salt and pepper and whisk until combined. Allow flavors to blend for at least 15 minutes.
- Use immediately or store in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
Assemble the Salad:
- Remove the beets and pears from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to serving to bring them to room temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the mixed greens. Pour a small amount of the vinaigrette over top and toss to coat. Only add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens.
- Divide the dressed greens between individual salad plates. Top each serving with the pears, beets, cheese and nuts. Drizzle a small amount of vinaigrette on top of each serving to finish.
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