This simple romaine hearts salad recipe is so elegant and perfect for fall and winter! Seasonal ingredients and a homemade blue cheese vinaigrette give it a distinctly French flair.
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This romaine hearts salad is really classy, really elegant, and very French. So when you're eating it, you can imagine yourself in a cozy French bistro, watching the fashionable people walk by. It's très français, as they would say.
It's so very French not just because of the blue cheese (or should I say bleu?). It's rooted in the idea of eating seasonally which is so ingrained in French cuisine. Pears and pecans come to us in the fall and hang out through the winter. So let's savor the seasons!
The only thing that takes any time at all is to make the blue cheese vinaigrette, and most of that time is just chillin'. Literally. Otherwise, this salad comes together in less than 15 minutes.
This romaine hearts salad is savory, sweet, easy to make, and oh-so-French!
- It's a well-balanced salad with sweet and savory elements, crunchy and soft textures.
- The romaine hearts stay crisp and hold up to the blue cheese vinaigrette.
- The pears offer a touch of sweetness to complement the cheese, the pecans add an earthy flavor.
- Homemade blue cheese vinaigrette means you know what all the ingredients are and can feel great about serving it.
- Quick and easy prep! Melt the cheese and whisk together the dressing, then just chop a few things and serve!
- Works as an elegant lunch entrée or a holiday side dish.
Ingredients you'll need
- Romaine hearts: This is the center portion of romaine lettuce, with the larger, outer leaves stripped away. Romaine hearts are great for salad because they stay really crunchy.
- Pecans: Use the best pecans you can get. Sometimes pecans in the store can be up to two years old! I get mine from Millican Pecan, a family owned pecan grove that only sells pecans from the most recent fall harvest! Your mind will be blown at the difference in flavor once you try fresh pecans! And you'll be supporting a family business when you buy from them.
- Pears: I like D'Anjou pears, they are a bit more firm and have a bright flavor. Bartletts can get really soft really fast, so they might be too mushy for this salad.
- Blue cheese: Blue cheeses can vary widely in flavor, so use one that you like whether that be stronger or milder. Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton all work here.
- Heavy cream, dijon mustard, olive oil and salt: are the remaining ingredients to make the most fab homemade blue cheese dressing ever!
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to make this romaine hearts salad
Step 1: Make the blue cheese vinaigrette
Make the salad dressing two hours before serving, or the night before.
Melt half of the blue cheese into the heavy cream in a small sauce pan. Stir to combine, and put in the refrigerator to chill.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard until it is fully emulsified to make a vinaigrette.
Add the chilled blue cheese mixture to the vinaigrette.
Whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
Step 2: Toast the pecans
In a small skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes. Just until you can smell their pecan-ness.
Step 3: Slice the pears and romaine hearts
Use a good chef's knife to thinly slice the pear.
Leaving the core of the lettuce in place so the leaves hold together, slice the romaine hearts into fourths. If possible slice each fourth in half again. You might not be able to get these into such small wedges, depending upon out tightly packed the leaves are.
Step 4: Assemble the salad
Place the romaine hearts on a platter, drizzle with the blue cheese vinaigrette, top with the toasted pecans, blue cheese crumbles, pear slices, and serve.
When to serve a romaine hearts salad
This romaine hearts salad is kind of fancy, but you don't have to wait for a fancy occasion to serve it!
- Try it for a girls lunch! (With some Rosé or Sancerre, of course!)
- Serve it for Thanksgiving or Christmas. The dressing can be made ahead to make things easier on the big day.
- Perfect for a Sunday brunch!
- Serve alongside Cast Iron Skillet Steak for a real steakhouse experience at home.
- Keep it French and present it with Chicken Thighs in Red Wine.
Romaine hearts are the center of the head of romaine lettuce. This part of the romaine is a bit lighter in color, tastes a little sweeter, and is the crunchiest part of the lettuce. They work great for salads because they're sturdy and can stand up to all kinds of ingredients.
The blue cheese vinaigrette can be made one day in advance and stored in the fridge.
More salads made with seasonal fruit
- This Apple Fennel Salad has a lemon vinaigrette, and brightens any fall or winter table.
- Fall flavors abound in my Kale Salad with Cranberries, Apples, and Pecans.
- Kick off your summer with a Strawberry Arugula Salad that gets big flavor from fresh herbs.
Romaine Hearts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pears, and Pecans
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 1 large pear or two small ones
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 4 oz blue cheese
- 3 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Two hours before serving, or the night before, melt half of the blue cheese into the heavy cream in a small sauce pan. Stir to combine, and put in the refrigerator to chill.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard until it is fully emulsified to make a vinaigrette. Add the chilled blue cheese mixture to the vinaigrette and whisk thoroughly to combine.
- In a small skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Just until you can smell their pecan-ness.
- Thinly slice the pear.
- Leaving the core of the lettuce in place so the leaves hold together, slice the romaine hearts into fourths. If possible slice each fourth in half again. (You might not be able to get these into such small wedges, depending upon out tightly packed the leaves are.)
- Place the romaine hearts on a platter, drizzle with the blue cheese vinaigrette, top with remaining blue cheese crumbles, pecans, pear slices, and serve.
- I used Millican Pecans in this recipe, because they only sell pecans from the most recent harvest. (Pecans at the store can be up to two years old!) Give them a try - the difference in flavor is unbelievable, and you'll be supporting a family business!
- This recipe was adapted from Tasting Paris, by Cotilde Dusoulier. It's a beautiful book with recipes from breakfast to cocktails to dessert, and incredible photos of not just food, but locations all over Paris.