Pear, Toasted Walnut & Blue Cheese Stuffing

November 19, 2009

This stuffing recipe combines seasonal pears, crunchy walnuts and rich blue cheese! 

I enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Every single year my family makes the same exact dishes, and they are all delicious. However, when I started getting into food and cooking I felt the need to rock the boat, or rather the Thanksgiving table.
Don’t get me wrong, I value tradition, but there is also nothing wrong with putting a new twist on things or adding a new dish each year. My first attempt at this was sweet potato casserole. We had never had this growing up. My grandma used to always make the sweet potatoes ones straight from the can, whole with marshmallows on top.
When I first introduced the casserole there was a lot of resistance. So much so that my mom told me only to make a small dish because it probably wouldn’t all get eaten. Well, the size of that dish has grown each year and she just asked me last night if I was planning on making it again this year.
Change is good.
I have similar rock-the-boat tendencies with stuffing. My mom still makes my grandmother’s and it is a coveted side around the table. Let’s just say that the stuffing meets much more resistance than the sweet potatoes ever experienced. Therefore each year I make a small Thanksgiving meal the week before for my husband and me, and one year we invited a small group of friends, a tradition I hope can continue now that we are back in Kentucky.
I happen to love the stuffing recipes from Rachael Ray. I go back and forth between her Apple and Onion Stuffing and her Cranberry-Pecan Stuffing each year. This year, I wanted to try to find a way to put my own twist on it and a familiar combination came to mind.
I really enjoy the pear, walnut and blue cheese flavor combination. I often take a pear slice, top it with cheese, a walnut half and drizzle it with honey for a snack. It is also my go-to salad topping.
So I thought – if apples, onions, cranberries and pecans work in a Thanksgiving stuffing, why not pear, walnut and blue cheese?
Guess what? It does!
Last night I made Pear, Toasted Walnut & Blue Cheese Stuffing and it turned out great. I used both 9-grain and whole wheat bread slices, dried them out in a 200 F oven, and then cut the slices into cubes. I mixed half the blue cheese in the stuffing and pressed the remaining onto the top of the stuffing once I transferred it to the baking dish.
It is officially on the Thanksgiving menu for years to come!
Pear, Toasted Walnut & Blue Cheese Dressing
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large pear, chopped
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp rubbed sage
½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
8 cups dried bread cubes
2 – 3 cups chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled & divided
Preheat the oven to 400 F and butter a 2 quart baking dish. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and then add the butter. Once melted add the onion and garlic, cook on medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Next add in the pear and cook until tender, about 7 minutes more. Add the salt, pepper and sage and stir to coat the mixture. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Add the bread cubes to a large mixing bowl. Add the onion-pear mixture and stir to incorporate. Stir in the toasted walnuts and add the chicken stock one cup at a time until the stuffing reaches your desired consistency. If you like it dry, add about 2 cups, wet, add all 3. Stir in the egg.
Finally stir in half of the blue cheese and transfer the stuffing to the baking dish, pressing it down gently. Sprinkle the remaining blue cheese onto the top of the stuffing and press the pieces into the top of the mixture. Bake covered for about 30 minutes, remove the top and bake about 15 minutes more, or until the top is browned and crispy.

Note: The baking time has a lot to do with how you like your stuffing. This was my method this time and it was a little wetter than I like it. Next time I would likely bake it uncovered to dry it out more.

Makes 6 to 8 servings depending on how many other sides you have.


You Might Also Like

  • Erica November 19, 2009 at 8:01 am

    This looks so good! There is something about pears and blue cheese that just WORKS. Great job rocking the boat! Hooray for almost tgiving

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) November 19, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I’m with you! It’s always got to put a little twist on things. I would love to try making that stuffing. Blue cheese and pears are sooo great together!

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) November 19, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I’m not a huge blue cheese fan but admittedly this does look pretty tasty and creamy!

    I have a similar experience growing up with the Thanksgiving side dishes. I never liked sweet potatoes, ever, they were so gross. Well my only exposure to them was my mom heating up a can of sweet potatoes. EW! Imagine my surprise at how good they could be when using fresh! Now I know! Experimentation is good, keeps us on our toes and helps us expand our knowledge. 🙂

  • Tangled Noodle November 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Our Thanksgiving table will look very traditional as well, although you’ll hear no complaints from me – it’s all too delicious! With a week to go, I’m trying to think of something that I could add to goose the turkey, so to speak! 8-P

    This looks absolutely amazing! The pungency of blue cheese would really liven up the dishes. If it doesn’t make it to our T-day table, then we’ll just have to enjoy it the rest of the year!

  • 5 Star Foodie November 19, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    What a unique stuffing! I love this combination of flavors! I’m all set with my cornbread stuffing for this year’s Southern menu, but your pear stuffing gets definitely bookmarked for the future Thanksgivings to try!

  • Emily November 19, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    That sounds SO good Lori!!!! OMG!

  • Daily Spud November 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Stuffing is one of my favourite parts of Christmas dinner (or Thanksgiving, if I’m allowed to borrow that occasion 🙂 ) and, while I like the traditional stuff, it is good to mix things up a little. Pear, walnut and blue cheese stuffing sounds like an excellent way to do just that!

  • lesley living life November 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I honestly get tired of the same old, same old on Thanksgiving and this looks like a great way to rock the Thanksgiving boat! Mmm : )

  • janet November 20, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Growing up we only had sweet potatoes out of the can too. There’s nothing like using the fresh ones!

  • kat November 20, 2009 at 8:17 am

    The traditional versus new & different is a constant struggle in my family over the holidays too

  • Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ November 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I love the sound of this! The combo of flavors is wonderful. Pears and walnuts are one of my favorite salad additions too. I had a thought today about how fun it would be to make over our entire Thanksgiving menu. Someday…I hope to get the chance.

  • Lori November 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Erica – Thanks! I seriously can’t wait for t-day this year!

    Amanda – A twist can turn out so great! The stuffing is super easy. Definitely give it a try.

    Andrea – It would be good without the blue cheese too. I hated those canned sweet potatoes too. Just couldn’t stand the texture or the flavor.

    TN – Ha! Goose the turkey! 🙂 The best part is that we can incorporate these rock-the-boat dishes in our own kitchen even if they aren’t an extended family favorite. 🙂

    5 Star – Thanks! Cornbread stuffing is one I definitely need to try to make. I see it all the time, but haven’t made it yet.

    Emily – Thanks! Glad you like it! 🙂

    Daily Spud – Consider it on loan. 😉 I think stuffing is probably my favorite part as well.

    lesley – Thanks! It’s always tough because I don’t want the tradition to go away, but sometimes I get tired of the same stuff too.

    janet – I totally agree. A completely different food experience.

    kat – Yeah, pros and cons to both. 🙂

    Reeni- I did it a couple years ago for friends the week before we celebrated with our families. It was so much fun! I highly recommend it. 🙂

  • Anonymous December 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I was looking for a twist on Thanksgiving stuffing and came across this recipe. I was worried it would be too strong of a flavor–not at all. In fact, I think next time I make it I’ll up the blue cheese for a gooier texture and stronger flavor. I used a nice loaf of Panera’s light wheat bread which worked well. I think next time I’ll try a chewy, dense 7-grain wheat to add some more texture. Great recipe! It looked beautiful and everyone was very impressed.