Monday, November 15, 2010

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette and Pear Spinach Salad

Have you ever read the ingredients of non-organic salad dressing?

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Monosodium Glutamate, Sulfites, Maltodextrin....

Eeewwww.  Seems like that kind of cancels out the benefit of eating a healthy salad...

Don't get me wrong:  I posted my Zesty Chicken recipe the other day which features regular-smegular salad dressing as a main ingredient.  It wasn't organic or even 100% natural.  In a perfect world, I'd buy everything organic and local and such.  But this isn't a perfect world, and sometimes we have to take what we can get. 

Or do we?

Do you know how easy it is to make salad dressing?

Neither did I.

Until the other day...

A friend gave me about 20 beautiful, perfectly ripe organic pears on Friday.  (She also gave me a large bag of organic yellow onions.  I made French Onion soup; I will post that deliciousness later...)  I've made a pear cobbler, baked pears, eaten them raw with goat cheese, etc.  But I also wanted to feature them in something savory and autumnal. 

Enter pear-spinach salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette. 

Now don't start giving me the stink eye because that sounds too fancy.

It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself.  Children were even consuming it.  Raw spinach + kids?  Now that's an equation worth pursuing!

Although present in this dressing, the maple syrup does not scream "THERE'S MAPLE SYRUP IN HERE!"  You can barely taste it.  Mostly it just calms down the obnoxious balsamic vinegar.  

I think I'll also try it as a marinade for chicken or pork.

Here's a little trick on how to make the pear slices pretty:  use a melon-baller to remove the seeds and core.

This series of photo taken by Chris  

Spinach Pear Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 4 shiny, happy people

Candied Almonds:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup almonds (or you can substitute pecans or walnuts)

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 of a small shallot, finely sliced into rings
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or substitute grapeseed oil)
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or substitute honey)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves
1 pear, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

To make the candied almonds, melt the butter in a skillet, stir in the brown sugar, then add the almonds.  Toss just to coat.  Set out a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet.  Spread the nuts on the waxed paper and allow to harden.  Set aside.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.  Refrigerate until you're ready to prepare and serve the salad.

For the salad, toss the spinach leaves, the sliced pear, and the almonds.  Toss with dressing.  Serve to individual plates and top with cheese.  Serve immediately.


A variation from this recipe I found online: Tyler Florence/Food Network.


SundayClothes said...

your photos are amaaaazzzzhing!
(and are thoes new plate that the coffee cake is on?) sooo pretty

Heather said...

i know. they make me just want to dive right in and take a bite. i am just trying to imagine how often you go to the store... it blows my mind how much you cook girl. i havent been in over a week. we down to bread and cheese basically. this beautiful green salad is so delicious and inviting looking. i really wish i could reach over with my fork and start sampling. especially since i haven't had any real veggies in awhile!:(

Heather said...

Ok. well, I was able to make this salad dressing a least tonight and HELLO LUVER!!! IM infatuated with it! I can never have any other. I never thought some of my least favorite ingredients could meld so beautifully over romaine lettuce, sun dried tomatoes and parmesean. Yes, I was licking the bowl!

Ginny said...

Yea! Thank you for letting me know that! Positive feedback is so encouraging and spurs me onward to further kitchen adventures!

mindi said...

Looks so yummy, I might just have to give it a try!!

Cathy M~(checkitoff) said...

I found you on Erin's blog, so I hopped over & found your great recipes, yummy! I am a new follower of yours! my family loves new recipes! cannot wait to try them. hugs, Cathy

Heather said...

Came back to tell you that I made this tonight but added Crispy Turkey Bacon and Feta crumbles... Yummmy! Thanks for all your hard work, cooking, cleaning, documenting, etc.. my stomach sure appreciates it! seriously, you are changing the way I shop, eat, and spend time in the kitchen. i went to whole foods tonight and bought ingredients like whole nutmeg, fennel and cranberry infuesed white cheddar. thank you.. thank you..
this salad was better than any i've ever had a restaurant.

Christy said...

OK...who snapped your photos of you with the pears? Was it Pierre or Franc! (*) Love this recipe.