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Pear and Buttermilk Blue Cheese Salad


For the sherry gastrique:

½ cup aged sherry vinegar

½ cup sugar

For the sherry vinaigrette:

¼ cup aged sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons minced shallot

½ teaspoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon honey

¾ cup blended oil (Dissen prefers a 75/25 blend of canola and olive oil)

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

2 Asian pears, cored and thinly sliced

3 cups baby arugula

1 fennel bulb, shaved

1 cup shaved radishes

¾ cup buttermilk blue cheese

1 cup Marcona almonds

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup pear mostarda (recipe follows)


  1. Make the sherry gastrique: In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and sugar to a simmer and reduce until slightly thick. Allow to cool completely and reserve at room temperature.
  2. Make the vinaigrette: In a blender, puree vinegar, shallot, garlic, mustard, and honey. With the blender running, slowly add oil to emulsify the vinaigrette. Season to taste.
  3. Make the salad: In a medium bowl, combine pears, arugula, shaved root vegetables, buttermilk blue cheese, and almonds. Gently toss salad with vinaigrette and season to taste.
  4. To assemble: Drizzle gastrique around each plate. Arrange tossed salad in center of plate and pear mostarda around the side of the salad. Garnish with more buttermilk blue cheese and almonds. Serve immediately.

Pear Mostarda

Makes about 4 cups

6 underripe Asian or Bosc pears
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ tablespoons yellow mustard seed
1½ tablespoons brown mustard seed
1½ cups white wine
½ cup champagne vinegar
¾ cup dried cherries
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons dijon mustard (Dissen prefers Lusty Monk)

  1. Peel, core, and slice pears into ⅛-inch slices (if pears are soft, cut a little thicker). Reserve in 1 quart of water with lemon juice.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, toast mustard seeds until aromatic, then add to a large saucepan. Add wine, vinegar, cherries, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Thoroughly drain the pears and add them to boiling liquid. Stir pears and bring up to a simmer. Maintaining a simmer and stirring every few minutes to facilitate even cooking, continue to cook until pears are tender and liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency when a small amount is cooled. If the pears are done before the syrup is sufficiently reduced, simply strain them from liquid and reduce it separately before cooling and recombining the two. Stir in mustard at the end of the cooking process, but before cooling.
  3. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
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