Pear, Orange & Roquefort Salad with Sugared Almonds

 
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The quick & easy sugared almonds give just the right amount of sweetness and crunch - the perfect balance to the creamy and powerful flavor of pungent blue cheese. If you have no time to make them, just use some regular toasted almonds and save the recipe for a later date.

I generally prefer to use my Classic Dressing on almost every salad I make, and just change up the toppings. This comes from my Italian background of serving salads plainly dressed. Some people may want to sweeten up their dressings, but I think adding candied nuts and fruit is a much more interesting way to add sweetness. However, if you would like to make your dressing a little bit sweet, add 1 tablespoon honey to the recipe below.

Cook's Notes:

When serving a composed salad, either toss the greens with dressing separately, plate, then add toppings, or plate first, then drizzle dressing over the top of everything. This means that everyone gets equal amounts of toppings - plus, the final presentation is much prettier!

On the subject of dressing - be careful not to over-saturate your salad. Just a light coating will do. The toppings themselves pack a lot of flavor.

You may be looking at the ingredients list and wondering what dill fronds are. The fronds are the feathery parts of dill. You can also use the thinner stems of dill, just give them a good fine chop before adding them to your dressing or soup.

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Ingredients:

1 small head butter lettuce

1/2 small bunch romaine lettuce leaves

1 Bartlett pears, cored and cut into thin slices

4 ounces Roquefort cheese

1 avocado, peeled and cubed

2 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed

1/4 cup dill fronds

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Sugared Almonds

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 cup natural almonds

Classic Dressing

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, too taste

Instructions:

For sugared almonds, in small skillet, add sugar and water; cook over medium heat for 1 minute, or until sugar is liquid and bubbly. Add almonds and continue to cook for 1 minute, stirring often or until nuts are coated in golden sugar. Quickly remove from heat. Pour onto a torn piece of parchment paper and let cool.

To Use: break up pieces by hand or roughly chop. Nuts can be stored in air-tight container up to two weeks.

For dressing, in small bowl, combine Dijon and vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil;. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

To assemble salad, arrange equal amounts of butter lettuce and romaine on 4 large plates. Place equal amounts of avocado, pear, edamame and green onions over salad greens. Spoon dressing over salad. Sprinkle with chopped sugared almonds. Season with pepper.

Makes 4 servings

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Marisa Curatolo