Toast the pecans - place the pecans on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for about 5-6 minutes - watch carefully as they can burn quickly. I always toast extra pecans for snacking
Chop the pecans into small pieces and set aside
Peel and press the garlic with a garlic press or mince the clove very fine. I like a garlic press for vinaigrettes if you have one - it keeps someone from biting into a hunk of raw garlic while eating the salad
Place the garlic in the bottom of a small jar
Add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt and pepper to the jar
Shake the jar vigorously (with the top on, of course!) until the ingredients are well mixed and the dressing is smooth. This is my go-to balsamic vinaigrette recipe - I make it in big batches and keep it on hand - it disappears fast
Wash the pear - The pear does not have to be really ripe for this recipe but for other uses here's a KilKenney Kitchen tip - if you can't find ripe pears at the store (I never seem to) put the pears in a brown paper bag for a day or two and they will ripen
Slice the pear into thin slices the long way. No need to peel them unless the peel is icky (technical cooking term)
Crumble the blue cheese. This is the wonderful Big Woods Blue Cheese from Shepherd's Way Farm - YUM!
Wash and dry the mixed greens and place them in a large bowl- I like a mix that includes some arugula or other peppery greens
Drizzle the greens with about 1/2 of the vinaigrette and mix well. Taste the greens and add salt & pepper as needed
Place the greens on plates and top with the pears, blue cheese and pecans. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salads. You can use your favorite special plate like this Castleton china of my grandmother's if you are feeling fancy.
Serve with your favorite grilled meat or Pan Roasted Chicken with Perfect Sauce found in the recipe index on this blog!