Sunday, August 28, 2011

Get out of your Salad rut!

Sometimes salads can get boring if you make the same kind over and over again - so I decided to try out a couple new ideas that I've seen at restaurants a couple times. Once is a nice filling salad and the other is a bit lighter, but both are perfect for a dinner party first course when you're trying to impress!

Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
Pears (halved)
Goat Cheese
Lemon Juice
Toasted Walnuts
Greens (Butter Lettuce mix)
Apple Juice (baste the pears)
Brown Sugar
Red Onion
Dried Cranberries

It's also pretty easy to put together as well - just cut the pears in half, cut out the core (creating a perfect little hole for the goat cheese!), toss with lemon juice, and roast at 375 degrees for about 20 mins (skin side up first, then turn over after the first 10 mins). At the point that you turn over the pears, add the goat cheese in the hole so it warms up and browns on the top! I used apple juice to baste the pears during the baking process to keep moist and add flavor.

For the dressing, it's a little bit of a taste and test process. After taking the pears out I emptied the cooking juices into a small bowl for the base of the dressing, then added about a TB each of white wine vinegar and olive oil, as well as a little salt and pepper. Depending on its acidity, you can also add a little lemon juice. Some variations include adding a bit of fig jam or dijon mustard, depending on your tastes.

Basil Blood Orange Salad
blood oranges (substitute regular naval oranges if you can't find the blood oranges)
red onion
fresh basil
dried cranberries
pepitas (pumpkin seeds) - roasted and salted
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TB balsamic
1 TB lime juice
salt and pepper

For this salad you'll start with the dressing, which is the highlight of this dish. The first step is to segment the oranges. Cut the top and bottom off so that it sits flat on the cutting board, then cut the edges off so that all of the white flesh is gone. If you're looking for more tips you tube actually has a lot of videos you can watch!
Once all of the white flesh is cut off, then you can cut out each individual segment over a bowl so that the juices drip into the bowl as you cut. In that same bowl you can add your olive oil, balsamic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Once you've finished segmenting you can also add your red onion and dried cranberries (which will soak up the juices!).
In a large bowl, toss the spinach and basil together (equal amounts of each) and right before you're ready to serve toss the greens with your dressing. Top with feta and pepitas after plating.

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