roasted + stuffed pear salad
In my opinion, there are four ingredients that make a perfect salad: fruit, nuts, cheese and spinach. It’s really hard to go wrong if you have those. This weekend as I was flipping through one of my barefoot contessa cookbooks looking for a little inspiration, I found a salad that not only had my required ingredients, but took it up a notch. She took a pear, dug a little hole in it and then stuffed it with cheese, nuts and dried cranberries and then roasted it. Ummm, awesome! Of course I hopped to it…
I decided to use the recipe as a starting point, as there’s plenty of room for variation here. All you do is take a pear, peel it, halve it, and hollow out a little bowl in the center of each half. Then stuff it with some good stuff. I chose dried cherries, pecans and gorgonzola cheese. As if that’s not tasty enough, you drizzle the pears with a mixture of apple cider, brown sugar and port (I actually used some of my pear infused brandy). Then just place the pear halves in the oven for a half hour and that’s it. As I’m reading this, this could totally be a delicious dessert too… instead of placing it over greens you could just have it as is after dinner.
Once the pears are softened, let them cool slightly as you whip up a light dressing for the spinach (or whatever greens you prefer). The dressing is a simple mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and some of the basting liquid from the pan. Toss the greens in the dressing and lay a bed of them on a plate. Place your stuffed pear on top and you’ve got a lovely salad. But it’s the taste that matters, right? Well, we’re all in luck, because the taste match the looks, it’s quite the delicious salad… Perhaps the best way to perk up those winter blues.
stuffed and roasted pear salad
adapted from barefoot contessa: back to basics
makes 6 salads
3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
3 oz gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup apple cider
3 Tablespoons port*
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
6 oz spinach
Preheat oven to 375°
Peel and slice the pears lengthwise into halves. Remove the core and seeds, leaving a round well in the center of each for the filling. Trim a small slice from the round part of the pear so it will sit well in the pan.
Toss the pears with lemon juice so they don’t brown and arrange in a baking dish so they fit snugly.
Gently toss the cheese, cherries and pecans together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture between the pears, mounding it inside the wells.
In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Pour it over and around the pears.
Bake the pears, basting occasionally, for 3o minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or room temperature.
Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 lemon juice and 1/4 cup leftover basting liquid from the pan. Add the spinach and toss well.
Divide the spinach among 6 plates and top each with a pear half.
Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt and serve.
*I used some pear infused brandy I had on hand.