Since we’re just getting to know each other here, I thought I should make you one of my classic meals, a “signature dish”, if you will. It’s my Steak Salad with Poached Pears, Gorgonzola, and Glazed Walnuts in a Balsamic Vinaigrette. This is one of those dishes that friends and family request to have when they come over my house and it always hits the spot. It’s a delicious blend of sweet and savory flavors and the glazed walnuts add the perfect crunch. The best part is that it’s a cinch to put together!
I’m going to apologize to you in advance. Writing recipes is not one of my strengths. I rarely follow a recipe as written and I hardly ever measure when I cook. I kind of go on automatic in the kitchen; mixing, stirring, adding ingredients, and tasting until it seems “right”. Every time I make something, it’s a little different than the time before. But, that’s the beautiful thing about home cooking…it doesn’t have to be the same each time! I’ve tried to be as precise as I could be about quantities and cooking times, but if you decide to make this recipe, I strongly encourage you to customize for your own tastes. (And, I promise I’ll try to work on my recipe writing skills for you.)
(Serves about 4 people)
- Mixed Spring Greens
- Gorgonzola Crumbles
For the Steak:
- Flank Steak (about 1 pound)
- Salt and Pepper
For the Poached Pears:
- 2 Ripe, Firm Pears (Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett…)
- 4 cups Poaching Liquid (water, white wine, champagne, apple juice…)
- 1 Vanilla Bean (optional)
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (optional)
For the Glazed Walnuts:
- 1 cup Shelled Walnut Halves
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Tbsp+ Water
- Pinch of Cinnamon
- Pinch of Cayenne
- Pinch of Salt
For the Dressing:
- 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 2/3 cup Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- Salt and Pepper
- Poaching Liquid, reserved from the pears (optional)
For the pears: Peel pears, cut off tops and bottoms, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the core, using a melon baller or knife. Bring your poaching liquid to a simmer. Any combination of water, white wine, champagne, juice, etc. would be delicious. I make mine a little differently each time depending on what I have in the house. Today I used 2 cups of chardonnay, 1 cup water, and 1 cup apple juice. Add a little lemon juice (about a tablespoon) for flavor and to help prevent the pears from browning. If desired, throw in a cinnamon stick and/or a vanilla bean. Add pears to the simmering liquid and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from cooking liquid and allow to cool. Once cool, cut the pears into thin slices and refrigerate until ready to use. **You may want to reserve a little of the poaching liquid for the dressing.
For the Walnuts: Heat walnuts in a pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until they begin to toast. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and cook for an additional minute. Add brown sugar, spices, and about 1 Tbsp water to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the nuts are glazed. **You may need to add small quantities of additional water to achieve a glaze. (Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Spiced Nuts)
For the Steak: Preheat broiler. Season steak with salt and pepper. Place directly under broiler and cook for about 15 minutes, for medium.
For the dressing: Combine vinegar, olive oil, and dijon mustard. If desired, add a little of the reserved poaching liquid. Season with a little salt and pepper. Using a fork, whisk vigorously to blend. **The dijon mustard adds flavor and acts as an emulsifier to hold the oil and vinegar together.
Before serving, toss the mixed greens in a small amount of dressing. Top with the sliced steak, gorgonzola crumbles, poached pear slices and glazed walnuts.
All components can be prepared ahead of time, which makes it a really great meal for entertaining! And I’ll tell you a little secret…if you’re short on time, pick up some canned pear halves, a bag of Emerald Glazed Walnuts, and a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette. You’ll have to cook the steak, but you’ll save a lot of time and it’s still a delicious meal!
Serve with a warm French baguette and enjoy!!
Now that I’ve told you how to make it yourself, will you still come over to eat??