Caremelized Leek Salad with Pear, Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts

From Farmer John’s Cookbook

½ cup walnut halves                                                     

1 TBSP unsalted butter

5 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, divided                            

2 large leeks, sliced, white and light green parts

4 cups salad greens                                                      

¼ tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper                                        

1-½ TBSP balsamic vinegar

2 pears, cored, sliced (you may want to sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from turning brown)

4 oz. cheese, crumbled or thinly sliced (chevre, fresh pecorino, Parmesan, fontina, or smoked Gouda)

Toast the walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to turn brown in spots and become fragrant.  (Be careful not to over-toast them, as they will burn very quickly once toasted.)  Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.  Chop the nuts.

Heat the butter and 1 TBSP of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the leeks; cook, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden color, about 45 minutes.  Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with the salt and pepper to taste.  Add the balsamic vinegar and toss; add the remaining olive oil and toss again.  Divide the greens among 4 plates; sprinkle with the caramelized leeks and toasted walnuts.  Arrange the pear slices on the leeks.  Sprinkle with cheese.