The Covered Dish - Walnut & Pear Salad

November 16, 2023

Road travels took me to Northeast Missouri to see my dad this past weekend. With the help of neighbors and friends we quickly trimmed bushes and plants, at my dad’s home. We did our share of running around before heading back to Branson West, for the Thanksgiving holidays. We’ve discussed many subjects through our driving times and analyzed the gas prices from north Missouri to southwest Missouri.

I still have not pinned down my Thanksgiving dinner positively. Everyone is so hesitant to tell me their desires and it drives this cook a little stir crazy! This year, as I have the last couple, I’m approaching our meal with simplicity and ease.

As I always say: ‘Even if you’re enjoying pbj’s, the presentation can be beautiful.’

It’s all about the little steps taken to make the meal ‘special’. Listen to the comments made by your loved ones and ‘hopefully’ you’ll end up with a successful and ‘relaxing’ dinner plan. One of the biggest obstacles is laying groundwork so the cook can enjoy the day too. This takes early prepping and planning to make a smooth flow.

My walnut pear salad was written almost ten years ago. The ticket is the ‘ease’ and ‘uniqueness’ of the salad. I still like to serve one cream salad at Thanksgiving, but I also enjoy a crisp green salad. This is also a good move when you don’t know the dietary needs of everyone at your table. With the salad you have a ‘lighter’ food that would compliment turkey quite nicely. If someone has given up the carbs you will definitely need a plan B at the dining table. Thus, another good reason for serving a relish tray. My mother always had a small tray of pickles, celery, carrots etc. on the table. Somewhat like a charteuterie display today!

Let’s talk a bit about how I went about putting it together. First and foremost, I love pears. Add that with toasted walnuts, craisins and the nutty undertone of Jarlsberg cheese and you’ve got a winning salad. When it came to the dressing, I tried a few different things. To bring in the warmth of fall I used light brown sugar instead of white sugar or honey. You will also note that I used pear infused vinegar. I was able to pick this up in the regular grocery store here in Branson West.

I didn’t use any sort of onion on this creation, if I were going to, I would probably go with a red onion ring. Let’s talk about the oil just a bit. I really wanted to use walnut oil in the dressing but I was afraid some folks would not be able to locate it. I find that it’s a very smooth oil, and its only drawback is the longevity is not very long with this product. I used extra virgin olive oil, but would seriously consider the walnut oil. It has a very subtle flavor and you just may get hooked.

It’s a grand time to huddle by the fire with a hearty soup and a plate of this new salad. Enjoy the week, Simply yours, The Covered Dish.

Walnut & Pear Salad

10 ounces, 50/50 blend, tender greens and baby spinach

½ pound Jarlsberg Cheese, shredded

1 cup toasted walnut pieces

½ cup dried cranberries

1-2 pears, thinly sliced and rinsed in white soda & patted dry to prevent browning


½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

½ cup extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil

¼ cup pear infused vinegar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put this salad together according to the situation whether it’s presented in a big bowl or in individual plates. Arrange the pear slices to make a nice top presentation. Place all the dressing ingredients in a shaker bottle and shake until well blended. This is simple and just something different to bring variety to the opening of your dinner. Top the salad off with fresh ground pepper.