roasted pear and pepita salad

Salad is not the kind of food I normally look forward to eating. Yes, a good one can be quite tasty, but really isn’t salad just a precursor to something better?

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That would be the case for me until I found this cookbook. I originally bought it just to include more greens in our diet. Now it’s my absolute favorite cookbook in my arsenal. (I have quite the arsenal of cookbooks. I’m a little afraid to count them, in fear that I might surpass Heidi.)

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Why in the world would I get so obsessed with a cookbook about salad? The vast majority of the recipes are simple, quick, and massively flavorful. The whole thing is organized seasonally, with a different salad for each day of the year. The photos are gorgeous. It’s a cookbook that I get out every single week when I’m planning our meals.

The thing I love most about it? Originality. I haven’t had the huge majority of these salads, and the combinations that are put together are phenomenal. Simple, good food. There are everyday salads that take only a moment to prepare, while still delivering on flavor. There are also recipes for special occasions that you might serve when you’re entertaining or for a holiday.

On to this salad. I love the interplay between hot and cold in a salad. The roasted pears work well with the cool greens.

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This is a such a balanced salad:  salty/sweet, soft/crunchy, and warm/cold.  All of those things just work together to make a salad that I’m actually excited to eat.

Roasted pear and pepita salad

adapted, minimally, from Salad of the Day by Georgeanne Brennan

3 firm pears*
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 Belgian endives
4 heaping cups spring greens, spinach, or mesclun

for the vinaigrette:
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp apple juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Quarter the pears lengthwise and remove the cores. Place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, until pears have softened.

Toast the pumpkin seeds over medium low heat, until they start to brown. Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt.

Whisk together the vinegar, apple juice, shallot, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking continuously until the oil is fully incorporated.

Slice the endive cross-wise and combine with greens. Serve pears over top and drizzle vinaigrette over the top. Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds and serve.**

* If you have pears that have already softened, you can still use them here. Just roast for a shorter period of time, about 10 minutes. The author of the recipe also notes that apples or asian pears could work as well.

** This can also work as a nice salad for lunch the next day as well. To take to work: place greens in salad container. Place vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds, pears all in their own containers. Nuke the pears for about 20 seconds in the microwave before serving. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

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