Pear, Cheddar Cheese and Walnut Salad

with Warm Port and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

3/4  lb   fresh mixed salad greens
1/4 lb    fresh spinach destemmed
2    medium ripe pears
1-1/2 C walnuts
2 C  Tillamook extra sharp aged cheddar cheese crumbled
1 C  Hinzerling Three muses ruby port
1 Tb   brown sugar
1/4 C  Hinzerling (or any good quality) balsamic vinegar
3/4 C   virgin olive oil
  Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Spread Walnuts on baking sheeting and toast in an oven that has been preheated to 350 until lightly browned. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Remove stems from washed spinach and tear in to small pieces. Mix spinach with greens in bowl. Arrange mix in heaps on eight salad plates. Cut approximately 1/2 inch off top of pears, core, and slice into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange 3-4 slices on top of greens on each plate and divide the cheese and walnuts among them.

Reduce the port by half over medium high heat in a small sauce pan. Stir in sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat, stir in balsamic vinegar and slowly whisk in olive oil.

While mixture is still warm, drizzle over each salad. Lightly season (optionally) with fresh ground pepper. Serves 8

This salad makes a great pre entree appetizer for any dinner  and  was adapted from a recipe from the Walnut Marketing Board. If Tillamook Extra Sharp Aged Cheese is not available, any blue veined cheese such as Stilton, Gorgonzola, or Oregon Blue, could be substituted with good results.

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