This salad is not subtle at all. It has big, strong flavors — bitter, sweet, salty, and pungent — and yet it's extremely simple to put together! It's so robust that I can be content with this and some good bread for dinner on a weekday night. Just make sure your pear is firm and sweet, and the cheese is soft and smeary — these flavors are all made to go together.
This salad is one of those recipes where the end result is way more than the sum of the ingredients. And what really makes it is the warm vinaigrette. There's just something about warm dressing that makes a good salad even more satisfying.
This recipe uses white balsamic vinegar, which is so smart. It's not quite as bold and in-your-face as regular balsamic vinegar, so the flavor doesn't dominate the salad — it leaves that to the spicy arugula and pungent cheese.
Drizzle the warm vinaigrette over your salad when you're ready to serve, or better yet, a few minutes beforehand to let it settle and slightly wilt the greens.
Arugula, Pear & and Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper 4 large handfuls arugula (about 12 ounces)
1 barely ripe pear, cored and sliced thin
3 ounces soft blue cheese
Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Gradually pour in the olive oil, and continue whisking until the dressing has emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the arugula between plates. Top with the sliced pear and blue cheese, then drizzle with warm vinaigrette.
Updated from recipe originally published July 2007.