Monday, August 23, 2010

Spinach Salad w/ Candied Pecans, Pears, Gorgonzola, & Raspberry Vinaigrette

My grocery store enters, like most, into the produce department where on a warm summer afternoon the aroma of fresh fruit overwhelms the passersby with such enticing aromas that you'd be hard pressed not to stop and inspect its splendors. On this particular afternoon, I first smelled peaches and nectarines, then apples and bananas, but finally... finally I was overcome by the sweet scent of fresh Bosc pears. I couldn't resist the aroma. Before I knew it I was frantically searching for the softest, ripest pears on the shelf completely oblivious to the fact that I had lost all composure and was undoubtedly tearing through the fruit like a kid through Christmas wrapping paper. The produce section is utterly intoxicating! This recipe is absolutely incredible and perfect for one such summer afternoon.

1/2 C. Raspberry Vinegar
1/2 C. + 2 Tbsp. Honey, divided
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 C. Pecans, chopped into pieces
1/2 lb. Spinach
2 Bosc Pears, diced
1 C. Gorgonzola, crumbled
TT Salt & Pepper (optional)
TT Oregano (optional)
TT Thyme (optional)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the raspberry vinegar, honey, and olive oil until well incorporated. Transfer to a squirt bottle and store in the fridge.

To candy the pecans, simply drizzle them with honey and bake them in a 350 degree oven, shaking frequently until lightly toasted (about 5 minutes). I like to make my pecans sweet and savory at the same time, so I toss my pecans with a touch of olive oil to prevent clumping, honey, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Then simply roast them in the oven as specified above. Spread the pecans out on a plate to cool.

At this point, simply build a salad as you normally would. Toss the spinach in a large mixing bowl with a touch of the raspberry vinaigrette to coat. Place the greens on the plate. Garnish the salad with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, pears, pecans, and drizzle it all with a bit more dressing.

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