0 hours 10 mins
0 hours 18-24 mins
0 hours 33 – 39 mins
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8 Seedless grapes, red and/or green
4 Oz. Goat cheese, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. Prosecco wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil,
1/4 Tsp. Granulated Garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Cups Baby Spinach and Arugula mixed lettuce
1 Anjou Pear, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 Fennel bulb, thinly sliced, plus fennel fronds, for serving
1/4 Cup Pecans, toasted
1) Using your hands, wrap two teaspoons of goat cheese around each grape. Completely encase each grape with goat cheese. Place on a plate and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes or in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before serving. Make sure they are covered if keeping overnight so the cheese doesn’t dry out. This will make cutting the grapes easier.
2) Make the dressing. Whisk the Dijon mustard and vinegar together in a large measuring cup or bowl until combined. While continually whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Keep whisking until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Add the garlic powder, then season with a large pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper.
3) In a small skillet over medium heat, toast your pecans. Watch carefully since they can burn easily. Toss the nuts occasionally until toasted and fragrant – about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. I served them whole but feel free to chop them if you like.
4) Put the baby lettuces and sliced fennel in a large bowl and add about 1/2 the dressing. Toss to coat everything. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
5) Divide the salad between two bowls and top each with half of the sliced pears, the pecans, and the fennel fronds.
6) Remove the grapes from the freezer or refrigerator and slice each in half. Divide evenly among both bowls of salad and finish with a light drizzle of the dressing. Enjoy!
NOTES: This recipe is inspired by a recipe by Franco Noriega. I made some changes based on what I had on hand but I was so intrigued by the goat cheese covered grapes that I knew I couldn’t wait. I loved the results and recommend trying my Grape, Pear, and Pecan Salad.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SALAD
Grapes. I used a mix of green and red seedless grapes. Feel free to use your favorites.
Lettuce. For the lettuce choice in this salad, I had baby spinach and baby arugula in the fridge so that is what I used. But any lettuce would be delicious in this salad. As substitutions, you might try straight up spinach or arugula, or a spring mix, chopped romaine or a favorite standby, iceberg. Let’s face it, there is nothing like that crunch. Don’t get bogged down about the lettuce. Use what you have on hand.
Pear. I went with an Anjou pear which was a little firmer than the Bartlett but again, select your favorite pear. Do wash and dry the fruit first. Then, cut into thin slices so it is easy to cut and eat in the salad. Pears will turn brown when sitting out too long so cut them right before serving.
Nuts. I went went Franco’s recommended pecans in this recipe but cashews, macadamia, pistachios and almonds would all work as substitutions, so use your favorite.
Dressing. I happen to like more vinegar in my dressing and less oil…always have. So, if my proportions seem off, they aren’t. It is my choice that I like a tangier dressing. If you want a more traditional oil to vinegar ratio, add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil. I used Prosecco wine vinegar because I had that on hand but champagne vinegar and white balsamic vinegar would all work.
Garlic. I used granulated garlic but a fresh garlic clove would be great in this. So again, use what you have on hand.
Fennel. There is no substitution for this veggie (at least I haven’t found one). It has a unique licorice taste and you really need to use it in this recipe to get the great combination the chef had in mind. I used about 1/2 of a small fennel bulb but feel free to use more or less depending on your likeness. Chopping the fronds to garnish is a nice touch.
As always, taste as you go. If you need more salt and pepper, add it.
To get started on the recipe, prepare your grapes. They are really easy to make and the goat cheese is soft so it easily molds around the grapes. Freezing for about fifteen minutes will make slicing them much easier. By cutting them in half, it makes the insides sparkling on the plate and allows your guests to know what they are about to eat.
Next, whip up the dressing in a measuring cup (for an easy pour). Taste and adjust your ratios and seasoning based on your preference.
Next, toast your nuts. Be careful not to burn them. Let cool, and chop.
ASSEMBLING THE SALAD
Put your lettuce of choice and slice fennel in a large bowl. Add about 3/4 of the dressing and toss. Separate into two salad bowls.
Top with the sliced pear, toasted pecans, the grapes you’ve sliced in half, and the fennel fronds. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top and serve. Enjoy.
Did you enjoy this salad? If so, be sure to try some of my other favorites: