I love salads but sometimes I find myself stuck in an iceberg and ranch dressing rut. Saturday turned out to be pretty dreary. Shocker, being that I’m here in WA, right? Anyway, I decided to liven things up with a new salad.
First I tackled the actual salad part. This is two cups of spinach leaves and two cups of romaine lettuce, from the heart, aka the crunchy part. I just chopped, washed, and drained it all together. You’ll also need a red pear, some dried blueberries, walnut halves, and a red onion.
Slice half the red onion into rings and save the other half for something else. Then place the onion rings into a bowl of cold water and just set this to the side for at least 15-20 minutes. I love love love onion. But raw onion in salad tends to take over in my opinion. Soaking the onion gets rid of the raw onion “bite” but still leaves lots of flavor. And don’t worry, they stay crunchy if you use cold water.
I know this might sound strange, but sprinkle the pears with a just a little bit of kosher salt and give them a toss. Once I was at an Army Ball, and if you’ve ever been to an Army Ball yourself you know that the first 17 hours is nothing but speeches and ceremonies. Well not really, but it feels like 17 hours when you’re sitting there with a delicious looking salad topped with pears in front of you, and you can’t touch it until the guy with a brick the size of Texas stops talking. I wasn’t aware when they put the salad in front of me that I couldn’t eat it just yet so I instinctively reached for the salt. My childhood was deprived of salt, so I make up for it plenty in my adult life. As the speeches went on, I wasn’t able to resist, but I couldn’t exactly sit there and mix the salt into the whole salad. So I snuck one of my salted pears off my plate and it was heavenly! I sprinkled a little salt on a slice of pear a few weeks after that, at home, just to be sure it wasn’t the insane hunger making me think that was a good combo and it turns out it was good! So now I always make it a habit to add a little salt to pears. Try it. You’ll love it. I promise.
Toast the walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat on the stove for about 2-3 minutes. The key is to keep stirring or shaking the pan so they don’t burn, and they’ll toast evenly. Just set these aside to cool.
And yes, I realize my last three posts included garlic. I’ll try to stop now, I promise.
Then add the blueberries. In case you haven’t noticed by now, I have a slight obsession with blueberries and dried fruit. Dried blueberries are probably my favorite. But I bet cranberries or dried cherries would be good in this too!
I fully intended to have this with dinner but ummm…it didn’t make it. I literally devoured half the big bowl before it was even close to dinner time. I think it’s safe to say I’m out of my iceberg and ranch rut and pears in salad are my newest obsession. Amen.
- 2 cups spinach leaves, washed and drained
- 2 cups romaine lettuce hearts, chopped, washed, and drained
- 1 red pear
- ½ medium red onion
- ½ cup walnut halves
- ¼ cup dried blueberries
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning pears
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ teaspoons poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- Start by slicing the onion into rings and soak them in a small bowl of cold water for 15-20 minutes.
- Cut the pear in half, then quarters, and remove the core. Then slice each quarter into long thin strips. Sprinkle the pears with salt and set aside.
- Toast the walnuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Keep stirring or shaking the pan to toast the walnuts evenly and prevent them from burning.
- Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon of salt, black pepper, poppy seeds, brown sugar, and pressed garlic in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine and set aside.
- Place the spinach and lettuce in a large bowl.
- Drain the onions and pat dry. Place them in the bowl with the lettuce.
- Add the dried blueberries and dressing. Toss to coat.
- Top with sliced salted pears and toasted walnuts. Eat immediately.