Walking Denver (Part III) and a Winter Pear Salad with Walnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette

The Front Range and Foothills got a whole lot of snow last week. I think the totals were somewhere around a foot. But as I've mentioned in previous posts, the snow is welcomed here in Colorado and the city of Denver looks beautiful. The temperature usually shoots back into the 40's and 50's within a day or two after a storm, so that helps with melting and because of that you don't feel like you're living in a place with an unmanageable winter.  
I decided it was time to go on another historic walking tour, one that would take us through a different part of town. We drove over to see some of the larger homes and mansions in the Country Club section of the city. The neighborhood, which was established around 1905, has some impressive residences with architectural influences that include French Chateau, Georgian, Colonial, 1920's Tudor, Victorians, 'Denver Squares' and Santa Fe. (I also spotted a great mid-century modern home which I tried to look into, but things got awkward when the people inside saw me on my tippy-toes, two kids in tow, trying to get a glimpse of their interior furnishings.) Unfortunately for me I was going on this walking tour with a broken toe. 
My poor little toe, the fourth one on my right foot (I'll call it my ring toe) got stubbed on the baby's bouncer. It hurt like hell and I knew immediately it was broken. Adding insult to injury, the lovely denizens of Country Club aren't too fond of shoveling their sidewalks and some parts of the neighborhood are without sidewalks all together. That meant that I could only take Otis and Theo on a few well-shoveled streets- which was too bad because I felt like we missed a ton of great architecture. I guess that just means we will have to head back that way again once things melt a bit more.
Anyway, Otis had a great time and Theo slept through most of the tour. 
When I got home I whisked up a wonderful vinaigrette and drizzled it on top of a tasty winter pear salad. It was easy and delicious, which makes it my kind of salad. 
Enjoy and Happy holidays! 
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I saw a few variations of this pear salad, so I made a hybrid of sorts by using posts from dishingthedivine and drizzleanddip. This salad is รผber-simple to make and it's really tasty. There's bitter-goodness from the arugula, sweetness from the pear, a creamy tang from the cheese, and a mustard-ness (is that a word?) from the vinaigrette. Basically, the perfect balance of savory and sweet. You could caramelize the nuts, but since I wanted to keep the prep time and clean-up to a minimum, I skipped that step for now...but it certainly would be a way to jazz this up for a holiday dinner party. 
Winter Pear Salad with Walnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing (Adapted from Drizzle & Dip and Dishing the Divine)
several cups of arugula 
1 pear, thinly sliced (I went with Red Anjou)
2 ounces crumbly cheese (gorgonzola, blue cheese)
1/2 cup walnuts
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
a big pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Place the baby greens in a large, flat bowl. Top with pear slices, walnuts and cheese.
For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad (you will likely have some left over).  Mix. Eat! 
The salad dressing is very similar to Mollie Katzen's "Sweet & Tart Mustard Dressing" in The New Moosewood Cookbook. That recipe is as follows:
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk everything together. Cover and chill. This dressing is especially good on chilled cooked vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or broccoli.