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      RECIPE TITLE "Pear and Gorgonzola Green Salad" Author: The Minimalist Cooks at Home copyright 2002 by Mark Bittman

    ... more great recipes from Mark Bittman the Minimalist on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    yields4 servings timeWork Time: 15 minutes, Prep Time: 15 minutesdifficultyvery easy

    This salad is a far cry from iceberg lettuce and bottled dressing, but it isn't much more work. And it's a magical combination of powerful flavors made without cooking or any major challenges. No wonder it's become a turn-of-the-century classic.

    Simple as it is, without top-quality ingredients this salad won't amount to much. I love a good Basic Vinaigrette made with either sherry vinegar or good balsamic vinegar. The pears must be tender and very juicy, so sample one before making the salad--it should not be crunchy, mushy, or dry. The Gorgonzola should be creamy; ask for a taste before buying it.

      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    2 large pears, about 1 pound
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    4 ounces Gorgonzola or other creamy blue cheese
    6 cups mixed greens, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
    About 1/2 cup Basic Vinaigrette made with sherry or balsamic vinegar

      RECIPE METHOD

    1. Peel and core the pears; cut them into 1/2-inch chunks and toss with the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until needed, up to 2 hours.
    2. Crumble the Gorgonzola into small bits; cover and refrigerate until needed.
    3. When you're ready to serve, toss the pears, cheese, and greens to-gether with as much of the dressing as you like. Serve immediately.

      With MINIMAL Effort

      Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Walnuts: To add another dimension-crunchiness--place 1 cup walnuts in a dry skillet with the heat on medium, and toast them, shaking the pan frequently until they are aromatic and beginning to darken in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the other ingredients, then crumble them into bits over the salad. Try hazelnuts, too.

      Substitute spinach, arugula, or any other strong-flavored salad green for the mesclun.

      Add about a cup of diced cucumber or bell pepper (preferably red or yellow) to the greens when you toss them.

      Crumble about 1/2 cup of crisp-cooked bacon over the salad in place of or along with the walnuts.

      Omit the pears; just make a salad of greens and cheese. Nuts are great here too.


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