Blue cheese pairs especially well with fresh pears, so that's what I always crumble on top. Usually with abandon. Figs are another given, both to celebrate the season and to add a sweet counterbalance to the peppery, spicy bite of arugula.
My fledgling fig tree didn't bear fruit this year, so I used dried mission figs. If you're not a walnut fan, substitute pecans or almonds.
If you like, you can add a handful of homemade croutons for extra crunch. But it's just as nice served with crusty bread, and less work.
FIG, PEAR AND WALNUT SALAD
1 garlic clove, chopped with a pinch of salt into a paste
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 dried figs, sliced into bite-sized pieces, or 4 fresh figs, quartered
4 firm pears, halved, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup toasted walnuts
8 ounces blue cheese
3 cups spinach
3 cups arugula
Mix the dressing ingredients in jar with a lid, and shake well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place salad ingredients in a large bowl, and toss together with hands. Season with a little salt.
Add dressing, and toss lightly to combine.
Makes 4 generous servings.
_ Gretchen McKay
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