Baked Stuffed Pear & Gorgonzola Salad

Gorgonzola is a straw-white soft cheese with greenish streaks. It’s derived from a process called “erborinatura”, in Italian, meaning creation of molds. This is an ancient cheese and was first produced in Milan, Italy in 879. As enabled by tradition and law, only two Italian regions produce Gorgonzola cheese, and the following provinces only: Novara, Vercelli, Cuneo, Biella, Verbania and Casale Monferrato surroundings in Piedmont; Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Monza, Pavia and Varese in Lombardy.

Today, Gorgonzola cheese is produced in about 40 dairies representing a manufacturing elite composed of big national industries and smaller family businesses. This is the result of a long-lasting selection process.

Extremely rich in minerals and vitamins, Gorgonzola cheese has a significant content in proteins and a moderate fat percentage compared to other cheeses. It’s available in most markets these days, but if you can’t find it, blue cheese is a good substitute. Like many cheeses, this delicious Italian cheese tastes best at room temperature.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pears, ripe but firm
  • 1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (plus a few for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup diced dried figs (plus 2 for garnish)
  • 1/2 apple juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Marsala
  • 1/4 cup baking juices from the pears
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2-4 slices prosciutto
  • 4 cups arugula

Peel, halve and core pears. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over them. They tend to brown if you don’t.
In a small bowl, blend together Gorgonzola, pecans and figs.
In a separate bowl, mix apple juice, brown sugar and Marsala.

 

Stuff the Gorgonzola mixture into the hollow of each pear.
Place in a baking dish and pour the apple juice, brown sugar and Marsala gently over each pear. (Use all of the liquid).
Cover with foil and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

Prepare the Dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together.
When the pears are done, take 1/4 cup of the baking juices and add to the dressing.
Toss the arugula with a little bit of the dressing. (You will have leftover dressing, which you can use for the Beet and Goat Cheese Salad).

To serve, arrange the salad greens on a plate and top with one or two pear halves.
Add the prosciutto slices (I roll them up). Garnish with a few toasted pecans and a dried fig.

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