I guess I’m on a pear kick, so here’s another one. This is a variation of this Epicurious recipe. It has great fall flavors and can be made in very little time. It is easy to double the recipe so you can make a lot for a big group.
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 8 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed if needed
- 2 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into long, thin slices
- To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
- Place the onions in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 30 minutes. This crisps the onion and takes away the raw onion taste. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.
- In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of the dressing to soften them. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve the salad.
- To assemble the salad, place the spinach, onions, and pears in a large bowl. Give the remaining dressing a last-minute shake and pour over the salad. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange the salad in a large serving bowl or divide it evenly among 8 salad plates. Scatter the cranberries over the top(s). Serve immediately.
This beautiful Barefoot Contessa recipe is perfect for the holidays. If you are hosting vegetarians, this can serve as a satisfying main course as well. I put her exact recipe below, but I actually made a few slight changes. I used about 1/4 cup olive oil instead of 1/2 cup. Also, I forgot to put the cranberries in the oven, so I just added them raw. To toast the walnuts, I put them in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Peeling a dicing a raw butternut squash is not on my list of favorite activities. However, super sharp knives help to do the trick. We recently got our knives sharpened by the good people at A Cook’s Companion. It was long overdue, and I am so glad we did it. It made the dicing process a whole lot easier.
- 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
- Good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
- 1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
- While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
- Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.