A comforting and flavorful salad, perfect for a cold winter night.
Even with wildly blowing snow where I was in Pennsylvania this week, here’s a quick and easy warm spinach and pear salad to warm your body and soul on a bone chilling night.
In addition to being fantastically fresh and comfortably warm, this salad builds and improvises on some of the recent recipes you’ve seen here: the two instant salad dressings made with either oil or yogurt and the pear and avocado salad. But this time, by putting the salad on the stove—very quickly—you’ll find that warming brings out the full flavor of all its ingredients.
Here’s how it goes.
Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes, depending on number of ingredients
Cooking Time: about 5 minutes
1-2 Handfuls Fresh Spinach
1 Ripe Pear
2-3 Garlic Cloves
Olive or Vegetable Oil
Salad Dressing: Use either my Instant Homemade Salad Dressing: “Shaken, Not Stirred” with oil, or Instant Nonfat Yogurt Salad Dressing made the same way, but lower in fat.
Walnuts (I’m using raw walnuts, but you can substitute with any walnuts or your favorite nuts. Of course, skip the nuts if you or anyone eating the salad has a nut allergy.)
Feta (or your favorite) Cheese
Dried Cranberries (or any dried fruit)
Ground Black Pepper (optional)
10-12 Inch Frying Pan
Large Sharp (Chef’s) Knife
Spinach grows in sandy soil, and spinach leaves usually retain some of the gritty sand when harvested. I therefore recommend rinsing the spinach rigorously with cold water in a colander as shown below even if the spinach is packaged and the packaging says that the spinach leaves have been rinsed and are ready to use.
Put a frying pan on the stove and warm it over MEDIUM heat.
While the pan warms, prepare the garlic and pear as follows:
Garlic – Put 2-3 garlic cloves on a cutting board, cover them one at a time or together with the side of a wide bladed (chef’s) knife. Press on the top flat side of the knife with the heel of your hand until you hear and feel the garlic skins pop open.
Peel the garlic skin.
Hold the garlic cloves to the cutting board with curled fingers with the side of a wide bladed knife rubbed against your knuckles while cutting the garlic into slices.
Finish by chopping the garlic slices in cross section into smaller pieces until they look about as shown below.
Pear – Rinse and give the pear a quick hand scrub under cool tap water.
Cut the pear in half lengthwise, and cut each pear half in half again.
Carefully remove the core from each pear quarter.
Cut each pear quarter lengthwise into 2-3 slices, and cut those slices in cross section into bite sized pieces 1/2 – 3/4 inch wide.
Check the frying pan for proper cooking temperature by running tap water on your fingers and flicking the water onto the pan surface. The pan is properly warmed if the water sizzles when it hits the pan surface and quickly evaporates. (NOTE: If the water sizzles and evaporates in a puff as soon as it hits the pan, move the pan to a cool burner for a few minutes. Turn down the heat setting a few notches on the burner you originally used, and heat the pan again. If the water doesn’t sizzle, keep heating the pan until it does.)
When the pan has bee warmed properly, pour enough olive or vegetable oil into the pan to coat the pan surface evenly, and right away,…
…add the chopped pear and garlic,…
…a handful of walnuts or your favorite nuts (optional),…
…and a handful of dried cranberries (or any dried fruit).
Use a spatula to stir the ingredients in the pan, and cook only for 1-2 minutes until the garlic becomes fully fragrant.
Add the spinach, cook and stir with a spatula, and as soon as the spinach leaves show their first signs of wilting,…
…as shown here,…
…turn off the burner heat.
Add a shot of salad dressing and some crumbled feta cheese,…
…stir with a spatula,…
…serve warm, and…
…either enjoy the warm spinach and pear salad as is or add a crunch of ground black pepper to taste.
Images courtesy of Bruce Tretter