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Winter Antidote: Goat Cheese and Pear Salad

Are you feeling a need to eat more green stuff in preparation for a big Super Bowl eat-fest? Or are you seeking something special for a winter meal? Opt for a goat cheese and pear salad. Rather than the tasteless, squishy, and expensive tomatoes that fill winter grocery shelves, this salad takes advantage of sweet, juicy pears and and easy-to-find celery and carrots for flavor, vitamins, and fiber. Earthy, pungent goat cheese combines with a slightly sweet dressing to give the salad creaminess. A scattering of toasted walnuts provides heart-healthy Omega-3s as well as buttery crunch to the salad. The salad is great alongside a simple main dish, alone "as is," or, if you'd like to serve the salad as a meal and boost the protein content further, with a little chopped rotisserie chicken mixed in.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

Goat Cheese and Pear Salad -- Serves 4 (as a side dish)

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoon of apricot preserves or jam

1/4 teaspoon of lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese

2-3 tablespoons of chopped green onion

1 cup of shredded carrots

1-2 stalks of celery chopped

6-8 ounces of mixed salad greens

2 large ripe pears (preferably Bartlett or Anjou), cored and chopped

1/2 cup of chopped, toasted walnuts

In a large salad bowl, whisk together well the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, apricot preserves, lemon pepper, and salt. Add the goat cheese, green onion, carrots, celery, salad greens, pears, and walnuts and toss everything well to combine the ingredients with the dressing. Serve the salad immediately. If you don't want to serve the salad soon, you can combine the dressing ingredients in the bowl and layer on the ingredients in the order given without tossing the salad. Then sprinkle a little lemon juice on top (so that the pears don't turn brown), cover the salad, and refrigerate the salad until serving time. When you're ready, toss the salad and serve it.

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