Tag-Archive for ◊ spinach ◊

15 Nov 2010 Poached Pear Salad

My friend Louise made this wonderful Poached Pear Salad for Cookbook Club last weekend.  Louise, one of the best cooks in the world,  has been making this salad, to much acclaim, for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years.  I am so glad Louise shared this with us!  You have your hands on tried-and-true family recipe! The Poached Pear Salad is ideal for any fancy meal. It would also be good for a light lunch when paired (peared! now there’s a joke in the making… Hmm, no light bulbs going off here…, obviously someone more talented than I needs to come up with it 🙂 ) when paired with a bowl of soup or a sandwich. The salad looks elegant, tastes great and is dead easy to throw together at the last minute (as longs as the pears have been made and chilled ahead of time).

The green salad surrounding the poached pear can be customized as  you wish.  Louise used a bag of mixed salad greens, including some of that bitter stuff, and a sprinkling of feta cheese (some pomegranate seeds might have been a  nice addition, too).  I am going to use mixed lettuces with a sprinkling of blue cheese, some sweet and spicy pecans and some dried cranberries.  My daughter is thinking about baby spinach, macadamia nuts and goat cheese.  What will you come up with?  Arugula, walnuts and orange bits?  Bibb lettuce and almonds? Let me know!

Three cheers for Poached Pear Salad!! Easy, customizable, good looking, and great tasting! I have a feeling this salad will become a staple in my, and your, dinner party and elegant lunch repertoire.

Poached Pear Salad

  • 6-8 Bosch Pears, with stems left on, peeled (Bosch pears are the ugly brown skinned pears.  I’d suggest using smaller pears so your guests aren’t too full after the salad to enjoy the main meal)
  • 2 cups Port, Shriaz or Zinfandel (The choice of wine will affect the taste of your pears.  Louise prefers a good port.  I liked the pears poached in Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 slices orange
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 bag of salad greens
  • Cheese of choice, about 1 T. per plate (feta, blue, goat)
  • Extra toppings of choice, if desired: chopped nuts, candied nuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds…
  • In a large pan with a lid, combine wine, sugar, water, and star anise.  Turn heat to high and bring mixture just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

    Add peeled whole pears-with stem intact-to hot liquid turning to coat well.

    Stir in orange slices

    Cover pan and simmer pears on low for 10 to 15 minutes, turning pears occasionally, until pears are tender, but still hold their shape.

    Discard star anise.  Remove pears to a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Turn up heat under the wine mixture, heat to boiling, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Liquid should thicken and reduce to 1 ½ cups. (Pour liquid into measuring cup every once in awhile to measure progress).  When pears are cool, cut in half lengthwise, and carefully remove core.

    Pour reduced wine and the orange slices over halved pears.  Cover and chill for at least 4-6 hours, and up to two days.

    When ready to serve, cut pear into a fan and the bottom(see picture above), and keeping intact at the narrow top end.  Place pear in the middle of a salad plate and carefully spread out the fanned bottom part.

    Discard the orange slices. Reserve the wine syrup and pour into a serving bowl to pass at the table (will be extra dressing).

    Circle the fanned pear with a desired amount of salad greens.  Sprinkle greens and/or pear with approximately 1T. of the crumbled cheese of your choice and any desired “gilding the lily” toppings.

    Pass the reserved wine syrup at the table as a dressing (or serve with a light champagne vinaigrette).

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and I am so glad you were able to meet my good friend Louise.  Maybe one of these days she will share some more of her recipes with us!

    31 Aug 2010 Green Rice (Arroz Verde)

    I first posted this recipe on my Facebook “Polly, Julie and Julia” page in 2009.  Since then I have had a lot of feedback:  we have a winner! Green Rice has become a welcome addition to  many dinner plates.  Finally, a new rice side-dish; one that both looks good on the plate and is deliciously, delicately flavored. Odd, that you cook the rice in pureed spinach, cilantro and milk, but it works!  Don’t let the name-or the method-scare you off.  BTW,  the rice is not green-green, it’s more herby-green.  It’s pretty!

    I found this recipe in “The Best 150 American Recipes“, by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens, the book that spurred this food blogging urge.  The authors of the book  used some interesting turns of phrase to describe this rice dish (and other rice dishes of Mexico) the book said, “…like unexpected treasures at a rummage sale”.  This recipe certainly is an unexpected treasure…I don’t know about the rummage sale part though.

    One note of caution, my rice, although very tasty, was a bit crunchy. Next time I will add a bit more liquid (2T – 1/4 cup). Check your rice about halfway through, to see if yours needs a bit more liquid, too. Other than that, you can probably fit this into your dinner plans in the next day or two. It will make the whole meal shine a bit more brightly “(…like an unexpected treasure at a rummage sale”!).

    Green Rice

    1 cup tightly packed spinach leaves (about 1.5 oz)
    1/2 cup cilantro leaves (about .5 oz)
    1 1/4 cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
    1 1/4 cup milk
    1 tsp. salt
    3 T. butter
    1 T. olive oil
    1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
    1/4 cup minced onion
    1 minced garlic clove

    Place spinach, cilantro and broth in a blender and puree. Add milk and salt to spinach mixture and blend until combined. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil. When butter has melted, add rice. Saute rice, stirring frequently, until rice just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add onion and saute for 1 minute more, then add in garlic and stir. To rice in pan pour mixture from blender, turn heat up, and bring to boil. Cover pan, reduce heat, and cook for 25 minutes. (You might want to check, about halfway through, to see if rice needs a bit more liquid. If it does, add 2 – 4 T of additional warm broth, water, or milk.) After 25 minutes, turn off heat, stir rice, re-cover pan and let sit for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

    Recipe states the rice is best just after it’s made but can be made up to 2 days ahead and reheated in the microwave.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Hope it was worth your while!