We like to start with a salad for a meal like this, something special but not complicated. It can be assembled ahead of time and then dressed at the last minute.
Once the French toast is in the oven, toss the salad and round up your guests. They’re ready for the first course.
Running out of time? Remember our rule: Never kill yourself trying to make everything perfect. There are always shortcuts.
We’ve been making variations of this salad, based on one in The New Basics cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, for years. This version was partly inspired by the discovery of a lovely walnut champagne vinegar found at Wine Country Chocolates’ tasting room in Sonoma (you can drool over their fabulous chocolates at their website) and partly by the last of the Bartlett pears at Ha’s Apples, a favorite farmers’ market stand.
Pear, Walnut and Cambozola Salad
2 firm Bartlett pears
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
4 ounces Cambozola
one head oakleaf lettuce
a couple of handfuls of baby arugula
1/2 cup walnut oil
2 tablespoons walnut champagne vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Make the vinaigrette. I always pour the ingredients into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it until the dressing emulsifies. Toast the walnuts (I do this in a dry skillet on top of the stove, so I can keep an eye on them, but you can spread the nuts out on a jelly-roll pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes) and let them cool.
Clean the greens and tear the oakleaf lettuce into bite-size pieces; put it and the arugula in your serving bowl. Peel the pears and cut into thin, bite-size pieces and layer them over the greens. Creamy Cambozola, with a texture like Brie, has a fairly delicate flavor for a blue cheese; cut it into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the pears. Top with the walnuts and toss gently. Hazel, entranced by a colorful mix of nasturtium petals and other ornamental greens at Maggie’s Farms,
No time to shop for a salad? Remember our rule: Never kill yourself trying to make everything perfect. There are always shortcuts. Quick cheat:
You can buy a delicious ready-to-toss salad mix at Trader Joe’s or the supermarket. We like the cranberry-and-spinach salad with candied pecans at Trader Joe’s a lot.