Salad Greens with Roasted Pears, Toasted Cornbread Croutons, and Violet Cheese Dressing
Blackberry Farm’s corporate chef Josh Feathers likes to use red-skinned Bartlett pears for this recipe—their slightly firmer texture adds contrast to the other components. If they are unavailable, any crisp variety such as D’Anjou or Comice will do. But be sure they are ripe, or they will taste too astringent and not caramelize properly. For the best results, he also recommends making your own cornbread, although a good-quality store-bought brand will also work.
THE ROASTED PEARS: Preheat a cast-iron skillet or heavy baking sheet in a 475°F oven. Toss the pears with the salt, pepper, and 1⁄3 of the oil. Once the oven is hot, work in batches, adding a light drizzle of oil to the pan and laying enough pear wedges, flat side down, to cover the surface of the pan. Roast in the oven for 2 minutes, then flip the pears over and roast 1 minute longer or until soft.
THE DRESSING: Place the cheese, yogurt, vinegar, and mustard in a blender; puree until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil, blending until well mixed. Adjust the consistency with the water as needed, and add salt to taste.
To serve, in a large bowl, toss the greens with just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves. (You will have some dressing left over; store in refrigerator.) Divide the greens and croutons among eight plates; top each with six roasted pear wedges and a slice of cheese.
CHEATS: Purchase cornbread and make your own croutons, or buy premade ones from your local bakery or specialty foods store. If you can’t find cornbread, a good-quality sourdough bread will also work.
DO-AHEAD: The dressing can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature for one hour before serving. Make the croutons a day ahead, and store in an airtight container.
By Blackberry Farm’s corporate chef Josh Feathers
Photography by Heather Anne Thomas