1. Pear and Brie Salad with Candied Walnuts

    It’s a New Year, which means it’s time for a new look. (Fun fact: the new header image contains 8 varieties of cheese.)

    Now, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I think it’s safe to say I hope to do a lot of simple, but delicious, cooking. So, I’m going to start off the year with my mother’s recipe for Pear and Brie Salad. It combines butter lettuce (the best kind of lettuce) with fresh fruit, candied walnuts, and is topped with a delicate lemon vinaigrette.  It’s light, fresh and super easy to prepare.

    Why, I believe that meets all the requirements of my New Year’s resolution.
    Pear and Brie Salad
    Pear and Brie Salad
    1 package butter lettuce or mixed greens
    1 wedge brie cheese
    1 pear
    1 lemon
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 pinch salt and pepper
    1 ½ cups candied walnuts (recipe follows) 

    Place the lettuce on a plate. Cube the brie and pear and scatter them over the lettuce.

    Cut the lemon in half and squeeze its juice into a small bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Pour the dressing over the salad, then top with candied walnuts.

    Candied Walnuts
    2 tbsp butter
    1 ½ cups walnuts
    4 tbsp sugar
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

    Preheat the oven to 350.

    Melt the butter on low heat in a large pan. Add the walnuts and stir to coat them with the butter. After several minutes, mix in the sugar. Sprinkle the nuts with the cayenne pepper, and stir again. 

    Place the nuts on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.