We like to call this our Steakhouse Salad because it is one of those salads that would accompany a big juicy ribeye or NY Strip steak at a fancy steakhouse. Grilling the romaine results in a slightly smoky flavor and when paired with a homemade blue cheese dressing, pear slices, and candied walnuts, this is more than just another disappointing pre-dinner salad. The Grilled Romain and Pear Steakhouse Salad is perfection on a plate.
The Inspiration Behind this Steakhouse Salad
I’ve had a few steakhouse salads in my lifetime, and I generally walk away thinking they were a waste of effort. Sure, there have been some good ones. And there have been some absolutely amazing ones as well. But mostly, they have sucked. But they really do add to the experience of an amazing steak dinner when done properly, so here we are…devising our own. Go figure.
Steakhouse salads can be that mind-blowing sidekick to the main show when done right. And we have saved you a bunch of trial-and-error efforts by perfecting one that will make your mouth water, make you happy and give you that healthy side to go with a massive ribeye and potato main dish. OK, “healthy” isn’t really the deal here, but this is delicious and here’s why.
What is in this Grilled Romaine and Pear Steakhouse Salad?
This salad has several components that make it amazing which are: Grilled Romaine, homemade blue cheese dressing, sliced pears, and candied walnuts.
Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
For a good salad in general, you have to have a damn good dressing. This one is a pretty bomblicious masterpiece – I must say, and the most important composition of this tasty treat is really transformational.
There are some fresh and homemade ingredients that you should have in your arsenal and two of them are in this dressing.
Mayonnaise. It’s easy to make and you’ll wonder why you have lived your life eating store-bought, preservative-filled edible glue. Personally, I have never been a fan of mayo in general, but Angela is, and when I make this from scratch, we can both love it. It’s worth a little work – and I do mean little – as it is really a piece of cake. So we highly recommend starting off with homemade mayonnaise for the base of this dressing.
Crème Frâiche. The second homemade ingredient you should have at all times is even more simplistic. You can actually find crème frâiche in stores these days and it’s not a bad option in a pinch. Certainly, the store-bought stuff is better than mass-produced mayo is, but it’s still not in the same league as homemade and costs a small fortune relative to the real stuff.
Just look at our crème frâiche recipe below and tell me that you can’t make it for pennies and with your eyes closed! It literally has 2 ingredients and requires no skill whatsoever… a 5yo could make it. And once you make this from scratch you’ll never go back and will likely use it in place of sour cream.
Blue Cheese. Another component of the dressing – and obviously the star of the show – is the blue cheese. I am a complete believer that this is a personal preference thing. Some like mild blue cheese, like Danish blue or some Italian Gorgonzolas.
There are so many varieties and variations that generalization is dangerous here. The newer American varieties are all over the scale as far as flavor and assertiveness are concerned. There is also the famous Stilton from England, which is generally more assertive than the former ones listed. And, of course there is the in-your-face Roquefort from France that is as blue cheese as it gets.
There are many more options – find what you like and use it. Some will go in the dressing and the rest will be sprinkled atop the steakhouse salad at the end.
What’s the deal with Grilled Romaine lettuce?
The next little bit of the salad that make this special is (well of course) the lettuce. Romaine is so common and available, but also so overlooked. This lettuce can hold up to almost anything, making it the perfect choice for this dish.
We either grill this in a pan in the kitchen or on an outdoor grill. The grill option is great especially when the weather is nice in the Spring and Summer at the height of grilling season! Romaine loves some heat – it gets a char and also keeps its texture without getting nasty like other lettuces would.
Finally, we add two components that round out a perfect steakhouse salad. Fruit and nuts.
The fruit part is almost an uncompromising choice – pears. Yes, if you hate pears, you could use apples on your way to your psychologist to find out why you hate pears, but Bosc pears (or other varieties – I won’t get into this) work well and are widely available. Just find ones that have a tiny bit of give when you push on the flesh – they will be perfect. If they are as hard as a baseball, they will taste like one.
The nut component is a bit more forgiving. You don’t NEED nuts at all – especially if you or others are allergic to them – but they are a really nice touch in this salad. We used a simple candied walnut, and that was a great elevation with a tiny bit of sweetness.
Pecans are my “tied for first-place best nut ever” and would be just as good of a choice in this salad. Other options are almonds, Marcona almonds, pine nuts or pumpkin seeds (pepitas). But walnuts or pecans will be my choice nearly every time here to balance the pungent blue cheese.
So, there you have it – try this Grilled Romaine and Pear Steakhouse Salad recipe out and you won’t be disappointed. If you give this recipe a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
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