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Blog Takeover: Rainy Day Bites’ Pacific Northwest Pear, Hazelnut, and Blackberry Salad with Honey Pear Vinaigrette

The holiday season is officially here! Everyone who knows me knows that I love the holidays. Every room in my house is decorated, the tree is up, and now it’s time to bring some red and green to the table, too! Holiday entertaining doesn’t need to be hard, and that’s why I love Taylor Farms products. They carefully select the ingredients for their salads, chop them up, and triple wash them so they are ready to go directly in the bowl!

Taylor Farms Organic Baby Spring Mix is the perfect base for your holiday salad with its medley of vibrant red and green baby lettuces. This blend is fantastic because it has an assortment of vibrant baby lettuces, including romaine, green chard, spinach, arugula, frisée, kale, beet tops, red butter, and more! There is no need to buy several different heads of lettuce, wash them, or even chop them up; because Taylor Farms does all of that hard work for you, so you can focus on other things. Isn’t that exactly what we need during the hectic holiday season?!

I live in the Pacific Northwest and thought it would be fun to create a holiday salad this year inspired by my beautiful surroundings. I brought the outdoors inside by decorating my holiday table with pine tree clippings, pine cones, and a few holiday ornaments. So simple and easy! You could do this anywhere you live too! Just bring a few natural elements indoors (shells, birch branches, cactus, etc.) and add some ornaments that match the natural colors, along with some white candles. It’s an easy and stress free way to make your holiday table look pretty without spending any money.

Now that the table has captured the feel of the outdoors, it’s time to bring the flavors of the PNW to our plates as well. Three main flavors always stand out to me when thinking of this area: pears, blackberries, and hazelnuts. I used Taylor Farms Organic Baby Spring Mix and added warmed sweet caramelized pears, tart blackberries, toasted hazelnuts, tangy gorgonzola, and bright pops of tart pomegranate paired with sweet and tangy honey pear vinaigrette. So good and so easy to make, too! This salad had a nice contrast of textures and flavors. Toasting the nuts and caramelizing the pears brings a bit of warmth to this dish that makes it extra comforting on a winter day!

It’s so easy to make a stunning presentation with this salad, too! Pomegranates are naturally beautiful with their shiny, ruby red, jewel-like seeds, so set a few quarters in your serving dish. I love serving this salad with the pears sliced and fanned out. You can also just slice them completely up before caramelizing them, or you can serve them raw. I usually serve my salads with the dressing on the side or very lightly dressed, as people tend to like their salads dressed differently. This recipe makes extra dressing in case you have guests who like more, and you can refrigerate the leftover dressing for another day!

This salad is so delicious and easy, and because Taylor Farms is committed to bringing you only the highest quality ingredients, you can enjoy the holiday season knowing you are serving your family the best. So, let’s get started and make this recipe!

Pacific Northwest Pear, Hazelnut, and Blackberry Salad with Honey Pear Vinaigrette

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Salad
Taylor Farms Organic Baby Spring Mix (5 ounce)
2 Bosc Pears, halved, cored, sliced into a fan with top intact
1 cup Blackberries (6 ounces)
3/4 Cup Toasted hazelnuts, shelled, skinned, and halved
1/2 Cup Gorgonzola
1 Pomegranate, divided
1 Teaspoon sugar
Lemon Juice
Olive oil (optional)

Dressing
Honey Pear Vinaigrette
1/3 cup Pear Juice
1/3 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup Light Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
Salt
Pepper

Directions:

  1. Make the vinaigrette by combining the following in a resealable jar: pear juice, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Seal the jar and give it a good shake until everything is well mixed. Set aside and shake again just before using.
  2. Place hazelnuts in a hot dry skillet over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes, and gently toast until fragrant and the nuts just start to take on a bit of color.
  3. Cut pomegranate into quarters. Reserve two quarters to decorate the platter (if desired) and remove and set aside arils from the remaining two quarters. You should have a yield of around 1/2 cup arils.
  4. Cut both pears into halves and core. Using a sharp knife, cut the bottom 3/4th of the pear into a series of slices, leaving the upper portion with the stem intact, so the slices can be spread can be fanned out, but still stay together. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add just a touch of olive oil (optional but it helps the sugar from browning too quickly), and place all four pear halves, cut side down, fanning them out a bit, in the skillet. Gently cook the pears, being careful not to disturb them too much, until the edges begin to caramelize and turn golden brown. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the stove and set aside.
  5. Place Taylor Farms Organic Spring Mix in a large serving bowl or platter. Add nuts, blackberries, arrange pears fanning them out a bit, sprinkle over gorgonzola cheese, add reserved pomegranate quarters, top with remaining pomegranate arils, and drizzle over one to two tablespoons of the vinaigrette to taste and serve!