Indeed I am still here and enjoying Indian summer (several, actually, one after the other) here in the California wine country. I hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you. For those of you who have read my previous post, I have figured my way around Photoshop and Lightroom and am almost completely straightened out on that score. One step at a time, and one day at a time, while allowing everything else to brew.
Also know that I am working behind the scenes to redesign and update the whole site, and that the logo at the top of the page that gets in the way of full photo viewing will eventually disappear and become a more subtle part of the menu strip.
Indian summer aside, October means that we have definitely entered fall. While I wait for my favorite “holiday” of the year – Halloween – I thought I would share with you this easy and yet very flavorful and satisfying salad that combines some of the fruits of my favorite season. The salad is certainly uncomplicated, but what makes it is the vinaigrette. We used to serve it at the restaurant during October and it was a best seller.
The list of ingredients is more of a guideline, along the lines of “a handful of this, a few pieces of that” and so forth, as salads are not a precise art like desserts. That said, it is still important to maintain balance between flavors and textures. As usual, the most important thing is the freshness and quality of the ingredients.
AUTUMN SALAD WITH AGED GOAT CHEESE, PEARS, BACON & GRAPES – BALSAMIC SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE
Ingredients are per person/portion. Multiply as needed.
- mixed green salads of choice: a good handful per portion
- grapes of any color as long as ripe, sweet and firm (taste before buying): about 4-5 pieces per portion, cut in half
- pears: sweet, juicy and crisp (not mushy); good varieties are: anjou (pictured), conference, bosc and bartlett; a few slices per portion (about 1/2 pear)
- bacon/pancetta (not smoked): about 1 & 1/2 strips per portion, cooked/baked and broken in pieces
- aged goat cheese of choice: a few broken bits per portion (about 2 heaped Tablespoons)
About the aged goat cheese: the intent is to use a goat cheese with less acidity than when fresh, but richness of flavor and also some creaminess. Check with your cheesemonger at your local grocery store for suggestions. In Italy there are a lot of varieties to choose from. See what you can find, just be sure that the importation process has not dried out the cheese too much (that happened to me once). No fresh goat cheese, and no feta cheese, please.
Balsamic Shallot Vinaigrette
I don’t really measure when making this vinaigrette; I just make it by eye, but I am providing a portion guideline below.
yields 3-4 portions
- 2-3 medium shallots, peeled, halved and finely sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup good quality Balsamic vinegar
Assemble the salad: Distribute the green salad(s) on single serving plates. Add the pear slices, grapes, goat cheese and bacon in a visually pleasing way.
Prepare the vinaigrette: Heat the e-v olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the shallots, season with the salt and pepper and stir. Add the sugar and allow to cook till tender. Add the balsamic vinegar and swirl/stir. Set aside till cooled from hot to warm, then pour on the assembled salads and serve immediately.
I told you: simple but oh-so-good! If you make it, let me know how you enjoyed it.
A FEW MORE RECIPES FOR THE FALL SEASON YOU MIGHT ENJOY: