FoodStory

Writing about what feeds me.

Playing With Pears: Interesting, Yet Simple Salad Variations

If you’ve never had fruit in a salad, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.  No, I don’t mean a fruit salad, smartass.
And if you think I just mean mandarin oranges (although they are quite good, too) in an “oriental salad”, you got to think a bit more outside of the box.  In fact, a year or so ago, I thought I had struck gold when I first tried strawberries in salad.  But now, even fast food chains are doing up their greens with les fraises.  Time to try something new…

Arnel and I eat a lot of  greens: salads, veggie stir-fry, vegetarian pilaf, soups, etc.  We love spinach and arugula, but I thought I would try something different, but easy-to-make with a typical spinach salad.  This is what I found online:

SPINACH SALAD WITH PEAR AND AVOCADO

INGREDIENTS:
(yields 4 servings)

– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
– 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
– 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
– Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 6-ounce package ready-to-use baby spinach, stems removed
1 ripe Anjou pear, peeled, cubed
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, cubed
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 2 ounces)

PROCESS:

Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Mix spinach, pear, avocado and onion in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola cheese. Serve, passing any remaining dressing separately*.

RESULT/NOTES:
I think I may have rediscovered and fallen a bit in love with pears all of a sudden, simply because of this salad!  I copied the above recipe verbatim from the original source site, so it is important to note the following:

– I purchased NON-seasoned rice vinegar because I prefer to know how much salt and sugar are in my dishes.
Due to this fact, I added a few dashes of salt, but felt no need to add sugar since the pears were plenty sweet enough.
– I accidentally bought soft gorgonzola, so I had to omit the crumbled cheese in my salad.  I suppose this could have stood in place of adding salt, but in my opinion, keeping this salad vegan is much better.
– I used EVOO in place of vegetable oil and it tasted just fine (despite some people’s warnings against this in the epicurious recipe’s comment section).
– I used 1 minced clove of garlic in lieu of garlic powder.
– I might recommend going easy on the thinly sliced red onion.  It might just be me, but this flavor can be a bit too intense.
– One comment on the original recipe suggested using red anjou pears and leaving the skin on for a nice color variation; I might give this a try next time since I am all about aesthetics as well.

NOTES from 12.08.12:

– Made this in one large batch for Kelly’s company gathering; a smaller separate bowl, sans cilantro, for Carlos. =)
– Huge bag of spinach, 3 ripe avocados, half of a large red onion, 1 small, ripe bartlett pear and 1 large medium-ripe Anjou pear.
– Even though the Anjou wasn’t as ripe as ones I’d used in the past, I liked that it was a bit more firm.  As a result, it didn’t add any more mushiness to the salad (the avocado already accomplishes this).
– Using the measurements for the dressing as shown above was enough for the entire large salad.  Therefore, in the future, when making smaller quantities, consider using less ingredients for the dressing if you don’t want any leftover.  The cilantro in the dressing yellows rather quickly, so this is probably better as a one-time kinda deal.
– We provided a small ramekin of feta cheese for people to add to the salad as an option.  I think Gorgonzola – as per the recipe – or any crumbly cheese will do.  Depending on how sweet the pears are, the saltiness provided by the cheese could provide a nice balance.  For me personally, I can do without le fromage.
– Note that the use of organic rice wine vinegar, which has no added flavoring, means that the original recipe for the dressing is probably a bit sweeter.  Therefore, IF you care to, add a few pinches of sugar  into the mix.
– Now that I have made the dressing a few times with garlic powder (as directed) instead of my go-t0 of fresh, minced garlic, I would recommend doing this to not only save time, but also to spare people the intense after-breath.

REFERENCES:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spinach-Salad-with-Pear-and-Avocado-985#ixzz1uGFJSJ8B

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2012 by in Salad, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , .
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