Monday, April 7, 2014

Pear Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

This pear salad with candied walnuts and a blackberry honey vinaigrette is simple to make out of only a few ingredients and it's simply delicious.  I am sure you had this type of pear salad before, but the homemade blackberry vinaigrette makes it special.

I was never really a salad person, I hated getting the nutritionally dead and uninspired salads when eating out, but I always loved making my own creations at home, experimenting in my kitchen and using ingredients that I really love.  If you can approach it this way, you can do anything with a salad.  And your salads will taste great--even if you keep them vegetarian or vegan.  Ingredients are key!  They should be tailored to suit your taste preference, and they should be fresh and ripe.  This will ensure that you won't have to fish out the nasties, the flavors are tremendous and the different textures in the salad are exciting.  I think it is essential to build a variety of textures into vegetarian dishes to create a well balanced and pallet pleasing meal.  I am not a picky eater when it comes to vegetables, but I'm often put off by monotextures in vegetarian dishes:  overall mushy texture or everything is grainy, the whole dish is too wet or too dry without offering an element to balance it.  Let's not do that!

I liked to snip fresh baby greens and herbs from the garden and vegetables or fruit that look and smell particularly good have the potential to make the salad.  I love to sprinkle nuts over top and I like my dressings simple, light and dairy-free.

Speaking of cheese and my vegan aspirations.  I have been a strict vegetarian for 20 years and the only thing preventing me to embrace veganism once and for all are a few bits of cheese.  I am currently on the hunt for vegan cheese alternatives and have so far been embarrassingly unsuccessful.  I don’t quite understand why tasty vegan cheese is so hard to come by, when most other dairy alternatives are absolutely delicious.  I tasted a few different kinds of cheese, but the last attempt of gourmet vegan cheddar was so revolting, it halted my desire to try more.  My husband shockingly remarked, the cheese had the potent and overpowering taste of Chef Boyardee's Spaghetti O’s.  While I never had the displeasure to sample canned, precooked noodles to validate this comparison,  I will say that the vegan cheese was so nasty I’ll probably do without faux cheese for awhile.  So disappointing and so gross!

Anyway, back to much tastier ventures and the recipe of one of my favorite winter salads.  The following picture shows all the ingredients we will need to make this dish:

Pear Salad Ingredients

  • 6oz Blackberries
  • 3oz Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. raw organic Honey
  • 1/4 cup mild Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper;  to taste

  • To assemble the dressing, combine and blend all ingredients, with exception of the olive oil, in a food processor
  • Process until smooth
  • Then, slowly add the olive oil into the mixture to emulsify the dressing
  • Carefully poor the dressing through a sieve to remove the blackberry seeds
  • Finally, add desired amount of salt and pepper
  • Mix in with your salad greens or transfer the rest into a glass for later use
  • After preparing the dressing, assemble the salad

  • a mix of your favorite Salad Greens
  • a hand full of Arugula
  • 1 Bartlett Pear
  • 1/4 cup Candied Walnuts
  • 1 oz. or Vegan Ricotta

  • Wash and clean the salad greens.
  • Wash and then cut the pear into bite-sized pieces (there is no need to remove the peel on Bartlett pears).
  • At this point, grilling of the pear adds a nice flavor, but it is optional.
  • Combine the pear and the salad greens and toss with a small amount of dressing (start with just a little and add more as desired).
  • Plate, crumble walnuts and cheese over top and serve.
  • Enjoy!

What’s your favorite salad?  And, what's your opinion on vegetarian/vegan choices in restaurants or products in the grocery isle?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.  Also, please let me know if you would like me to share more salad recipes, more breakfast and lunch options, or warm and hearty dishes!

         Nina & Spencer

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