This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s Fall Entertaining 2011 magazine. They suggest three versions. This one is with frisee, goat cheese, and almonds. Other variations include :

*watercress, parmesan, and pecans

*radicchio, blue cheese, and walnuts

Any version would be great for a holiday starter. I found this one to be light enough that it won’t weigh you don’t before a big meal. Also, you can make it ahead of time, and then just put it together right before serving.


  • 3 ripe but firm pears (I used Bartlett, but you can also use Bosc), quartered and cored
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablepoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 medium head green leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 head frisee
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup almonds


  1. Toss pears, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add pears cut side down in a single layer and cook until golden brown, 2-4 minutes. Using a small spatula or a fork, tip each pear onto the second cut side; continue to cook until second side is light brown, 2-4 minutes longer. Turn off the heat, leave skillet on burner, and add 2 tablespoons vinegar; gently stir until vinegar becomes glazy and coats pears, about 30 seconds. Transfer pears to a large plate and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cut each pear quarter crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the almonds: Place almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and shallot together in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lettuce, frisee and cooked pears to bowl; toss and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide salad among individual plates; top each with portions of cheese and almonds. Serve immediately.