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On our last trip to London we had a delicious salad at one of our favorite nearby restaurants, Ciao Baby. We both loved it and ordered it twice on our trip. When we got home, I knew I needed to put my thinking cap on and get creative in the kitchen. I still don’t know exactly how they did their
pears, but I’ve tried a few different versions and the poached pear recipe from America’s Test Kitchen seemed to be the best. This is a fairly close version to the salad we had in London.
Just a note: This is not a quick and easy salad. It IS a lot of work, but for a totally different, out of this world salad experience it is far worth the time and trouble.

Serves: 6 Time: 90 minutes (plus time to marinate chicken, and to poach pears)
Ingredients for Salad
  • 4 grilled, marinated chicken breasts, sliced thin (see below)
  • 4 poached pears with juice, sliced thin (see below)
  • 1 bag wild rocket (arugula), washed and tossed
  • 1/4 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup high quality white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
  • 12 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, sliced 1/2 inch thick

Ingredients for Marinating Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (pounded thin)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (you can use white balsamic if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
Ingredients for Poached Pears
  • 1 1/2 cups fruity red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 long strip lemon zest
  • 2 pounds pears (4 medium), (just-ripened) peeled and cored

Directions

  1. Rinse and pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Then place on cutting board (one piece at a time) between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound until 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.
  2. Place pounded chicken in gallon zip-lock bag, and set upright. Add the rest of the marinating ingredients directly to the bag. Seal the bag and toss to combine and coat the chicken. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 24.
  3. To make the pears: Bring the wine, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and strip of lemon zest to a boil in a medium sauce pan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the fruit to the pan, turn off the heat, cover, and set aside until the mixture cools to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
  5. Toast walnuts and set aside to cool. Then put in small bowl.
  6. Slice cheese and put on plate. Make slits in each pear half to resemble slices, but don’t cut all the way through. Place fanned out pears and their juice in a shallow bowl.
  7. Grill chicken on an outside grill or in a grill pan on the stove. Keep warm in bowl covered with tin foil, slice just before serving. Toss arugula with the oil and vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Bring to the table to serve: tossed arugula, grilled chicken, poached pears, sliced cheese,and toasted walnuts. To build the salad, place arugula on plate, and surround it with goodies. Drizzle with extra juice from the poach pears, along with extra oil and vinegar if needed. Serve with hot, crispy french bread and butter.
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