Set aside 12 of the most attractive raspberries. In a bowl, toss together the remaining raspberries and sugar; set aside for 10 minutes. Then, put the raspberries in a fine-meshed metal sieve over another bowl and, with the back of a spoon, press them through the sieve; discard the solids in the sieve. Put the raspberry puree in a sealable jar with the olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. With the lid on, shake well to combine. Refrigerate.
Put the goat cheese log in the freezer for 1 hour. With a sharp knife heated in a glass of hot water, cut the log crosswise into 4 equal rounds. Season the rounds with salt and pepper. Put 4 salad plates in the refrigerator to chill.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread the walnuts in single layer in a small rimmed baking pan and toast in the oven until they darken in color, about 5 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Set aside.
In a small, shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Put the flour in another small bowl and the breadcrumbs in a third bowl. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. One at a time, coat the cheese rounds on both sides, first in the flour, then the beaten egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Sauté the coated cheese rounds until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turn them carefully with a spatula. When done, carefully transfer the cheese rounds to a clean plate.
To assemble the salad, peel and core the pears and thinly slice them lengthwise. Remove the plates from the refrigerator and arrange lettuce leaves radiating from the center of the chilled plates, alternating the leaves with pear slices. Place a round of warm goat cheese in the middle of each plate and sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Arrange the reserved fresh raspberries on each plate and drizzle with the raspberry vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
One evening when I invited my good friends Howard and Christine Cohen for dinner, Howard asked, “Okay if I bring a salad?” I replied, “Of course.” I assumed he’d bring a simple side salad. Little did I realize it would be this incredible combination of sweet, juicy pears, warm goat cheese, and toasted walnuts. Howard then proceeded to dazzle the guests with his meticulous, very professional preparation. No one remembers much of the rest of the menu except this wonderful dish. He simply stole the show.
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (5.4-ounce) log fresh creamy goat cheese
½ cup walnut pieces
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup olive oil
2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
2 or 3 ripe but firm pears