Stacked Bacon-Pecan Pear Salads

>> Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stacked Bacon-Pecan Pear Salads

For our Iron Chef Bacon Cook Off, Joe and I put together this salad. The inspiration for this salad had some heavier, more powerfully flavored ingredients like blue cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. We practiced the night before by making the salad that way - we had no idea if we could stack up pears like that, and I needed a good daytime photo for the blog.

The salad was wonderful with the original ingredients, but we realized that the bacon theme lent itself to lots of rich and flavorful foods, and we didn't want to overload our taste buds. We went lighter and fresher by brightening up the vinaigrette with sherry vinegar and lemon juice. Celery also added some crunch and freshness. Although we are crazy about blue cheese and it naturally goes with pears, we chose an aged Spanish cheese to give the salad a little sharpness.

Our friends commented on how the salad complimented the bacon ravioli, stuffed pork chops, and kale and bacon saute, rather than competing with them. That's what we were hoping to do!


For the vinaigrette

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice plus 1 tbsp
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp ground fennel seeds 
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper

For the salad

4 ripe pears
2 cups baby field greens or spinach
3 slices bacon, fried crisp
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup celery, cut into matchstick pieces
1/4 cup manchego or Romano cheese, finely shredded

Joe coring pears for stacked pear salad


Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and keep at room temperature.

Cut each pear into four slices, horizontally. Cut the core out of each slice, but leave the stem on the top of the pears. Brush each slice with lemon juice to keep them from browning, and try to remember which slices belong to the same pear - they will stack better this way.

Pear salad with bacon, pecans, baby greens, and manchego cheese

Chop the greens and bacon together and toss with the nuts and vinaigrette. To assemble, place a layer of salad mixture on the bottom slice of pear, add slices of celery and a sprinkle of cheese, then continue layering each pear.

You can see in the above photo that we only layered two pears vertically. That's because in the hubbub of people chopping and assembling and sauteing, we knew for sure someone was going to bump into the platter and they'd all come tumbling down. The pears arranged horizontally are actually buttressing the two standing pears like the arches of an old cathedral.

Really, that's the best I could come up with as a simile.

In any case, the salad was fantastic and we won a prize for "Best Presentation". The prize? A pink spatula with a piggy face.

Serves 4-5.


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