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 recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s Fall Entertaining 2011 magazine. They suggest three versions. This one is with frisee, goat cheese, and almonds. Other variations include :
*watercress, parmesan, and pecans
*radicchio, blue cheese, and walnuts
Any version would be great for a holiday starter. I found this one to be light enough that it won’t weigh you don’t before a big meal. Also, you can make it ahead of time, and then just put it together right before serving.
- 3 ripe but firm pears (I used Bartlett, but you can also use Bosc), quartered and cored
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablepoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 medium head green leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
- 1 head frisee
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 3/4 cup almonds
- Toss pears, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add pears cut side down in a single layer and cook until golden brown, 2-4 minutes. Using a small spatula or a fork, tip each pear onto the second cut side; continue to cook until second side is light brown, 2-4 minutes longer. Turn off the heat, leave skillet on burner, and add 2 tablespoons vinegar; gently stir until vinegar becomes glazy and coats pears, about 30 seconds. Transfer pears to a large plate and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cut each pear quarter crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds: Place almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and shallot together in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lettuce, frisee and cooked pears to bowl; toss and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide salad among individual plates; top each with portions of cheese and almonds. Serve immediately.