The perfect fall salad takes the ingredients of the season and puts them together in perfect harmony–much like a beautiful sunset over the fields of Tuscany. Indulge in this recipe before the temperatures draw you to the soups and stews that warm you from the insides out.
One of the first trips Michael and I took together was to Tuscany. It was the fall, and we were visiting the quaint town of San Gimignano. We sat at this restaurant on the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley of the iconic Italian cypress trees. They were planted in rows, like dutiful soldiers, and I can remember the amazing salad that we ate which inspired this recipe. It was the perfect embodiment of the beauty around us – the different colors and textures came together to create a remarkable canvas. I wanted to recreate that at home and this was the result. The combination of the salty Gorgonzola cheese and subtle sweetness of the pear will send a riot of flavors throughout your mouth. Combine that with the crunch of the pistachios and bitterness of the lettuce, it’s all very heavenly. Almost as heavenly as that Tuscan valley.
You may choose to add frisée or chicory if they’re seasonally available to you.
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 head red-leaf lettuce
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese, preferably imported, crumbled
- 1 large ripe but firm pear, such as Bartlett, cored, peeled, and cut into ½-inch chunks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, and salt.
- Gradually whisk in the oil until the dressing has thickened.
- In a large bowl, toss together the red-leaf lettuce and the dressing.
- Season generously with pepper.
- Divide the salad among serving plates.
- Scatter the nuts, cheese, and pear chunks over the salads and serve immediately.