I recently opened my front door to find my neighbor standing there with a bag of fresh pears. Little did I know that she was a cooking instructor at Sur La Table and that the pears were leftover from a recent class. I immediately thought of delicate poached dessert pears, but when I came across this recipe for a savory side salad with poached pears, I decided to go with it instead. Pair this salad — that also features goat cheese and macadamia nuts — with a creamy gnocchi, meaty lasagna, or baked casserole. This is a salad that you will enjoy well into winter, so get the recipe now, just
Poached pears (recipe follows)
6 quarts baby spinach leaves (18 oz.), rinsed and crisped
1 jar (6 oz.; 1 1/4 cups) plain roasted, roasted and salted, or honey-roasted macadamia nuts
4 ounces fresh chèvre (goat cheese)
1/3 cup mild olive oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
- With a slotted spoon, lift pears from poaching liquid; reserve liquid. Slice pears lengthwise or cut them into about 1/2-inch chunks.
- In a large bowl, combine pears with spinach and macadamia nuts. Coarsely crumble half the cheese over salad.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons reserved pear-poaching liquid (save remaining for another use), mustard, honey, and thyme. Pour over salad and gently mix to coat, adding salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and crumble remaining cheese over salad.
Nutritional Information: CALORIES 249(69% from fat); FAT 19g (sat 3.7g); PROTEIN 4.2g; CHOLESTEROL 4.3mg; SODIUM 132mg; FIBER 3.8g; CARBOHYDRATE 20g
For the poached pears:
- In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, combine 1 bottle (750 ml.) dry red wine, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 thin strip (3 in. by 1/2 in.) lemon peel (yellow part only), 2 star anise (or 1 teaspoon anise seeds and 1 cinnamon stick, 3 in.), and 1 vanilla bean (6 in.), split lengthwise. Bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, peel 3 firm-ripe Anjou pears (1 1/2 lb. total), cut in half lengthwise, and core.
- Place pears in wine mixture. Cover and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are barely tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let pears cool in liquid, turning occasionally, at least 30 minutes, or cover and chill up to 3 days.