Spinach Pear Salad with Maple and Brown Mustard Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups baby spinach, washed OR 8 cups mesclun mix (baby greens)
4 red d’anjou pears, sliced thinly
3/4 red onion, sliced thinly
6 oz. crumbled goat cheese, gorgonzola or other favorite blue cheese
8 strips Corralitos applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
1 recipe Maple Syrup Pecans
1/4 recipe Maple Syrup Vinaigrette
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Optional: 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

METHOD:

Combine spinach (or baby greens) in large salad bowl with most of the pear slices (reserve a few slices for garnish), sliced red onions, most of the crumbled cheese (reserve some for garnish) and the crumbled bacon. Add a few twists of coarsely ground black pepper, or to taste.

Drizzle vinaigrette over greens and toss lightly. Divide salad onto chilled plates. Sprinkle remaining pear slices, cheese and pecans decoratively on top of greens.

Note: For heartier entrée spinach salad, add chopped hard-boiled eggs.

YIELD: 6 servings

Maple Syrup Pecans

8 oz. shelled pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon OR dash of cayenne

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine ingredients in bowl and mix together thoroughly. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip pecans, and bake again for 10 minutes.

Maple Syrup and Brown Mustard Vinaigrette

2 cups olive oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup maple syrup (real maple syrup, not a blend or flavored syrup)
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

METHOD:

Place all ingredients in large shaker jar and shake vigorously. (You can also use a blender.)

This makes a very large batch of dressing – on purpose! It’s so good you’ll want to use it on a variety of salads. Vary the salad ingredients according to what you have on hand.

Variation:

Roasted Pears for Salad: Slice pears into thin wedges and place in a zipper-style plastic bag. Drizzle a few tablespoons of salad dressing over pears and toss to coat the slices. Arrange pears in a single layer on parchment lined baking pan, and roast at 400°F until the edges of the pears start to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Roasted pears are especially delicious with flavorful blue cheese and toasted walnuts.