According to the new “Carrabba’s Italian Grill Cookbook: Recipes from Around Our Family Table” (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95), “It took time for some folks to get used to pears in their green salad. Now this combination of sweet fruit, bitter greens, pungent cheese and crunchy nuts is appreciated for its creative blend of flavors and textures Be suer to let the pears get nice and ripe. Domestic Gorgonzola cheese is perfect, but if you use the Italian version, “mountain” Gorgonzola is easier to crumble than the creamy “dolce” cheese.”
Pear, Gorgonzola and Hazelnut Salad
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup hazelnut oil (see note)
1 head radicchio, about 7 ounces, cored and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 head frisée, about 6 ounces, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, core removed
2 ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
Whisk the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste, in a large salad bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the radicchio, frisée and endive and toss. Add the pears and Gorgonzola and toss gently. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on salad plates.
Note: For homemade hazelnut oil, use a blender on 1/2 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts and 1/2 cup vegetable oil until the nuts are minced, let stand 5 minutes and strain.
Makes 6-8 servings.