Grilled Pears with Honey and Bleu Cheese + Spinach Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Mm, pears. Mm, bleu cheese. Mm, lemon vinaigrette. Some of my favorite things (alas, no chocolate?) smooshed together into one dish. It is a salad, but very filling and perfect for a light summer dinner. Most of this can be (and was) eyeballed. I love not measuring stuff. How very unscientific of me. This is why I am not a chemistry major.

Grilled Pears with Honey and Bleu Cheese + Spinach Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Costco Connection, June 2012, p. 65

4 large, ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears

A bit of olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese

4 cups spinach (or mesclun greens)

2/3 cup (or less) extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

a few twists of sea salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 garlic clove, minced, or 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Heat up your grill pan on the stovetop (or if you are feeling the grilling season, go light up your grill. I was not). Cut each pear in half lengthwise and take out the core with a teaspoon, leaving a cute little circle. Brush cut sides with olive oil. Place pears on hot grill pan; heed the sizzle and let the magic happen. For a few minutes. I didn’t really time it. Just keep watching them and let it go for as long–and soft–as you would like, for the pears to get cooked and caramelized.

Melt butter in a little glass bowl and then add honey and mix.

For vinaigrette, mix everything from 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil to garlic with a whisk and season to taste. Toss with spinach.

Ready to plate?

Add a healthy amount of spinach, and place two piping hot pear havles on top. Brush with honey butter and top with bleu cheese in the little hole (see photo). Now, I didn’t do this, but wished I had after my dad did it to his: he drizzled more honey/butter on top of the bleu cheese, which really let the honey flavor come through and melted the cheese more.

This salad was so good! Pears and spinach are full of fiber, and healthy fats in the olive oil helped make this a filling meal. As an afterthought, I would add some toasted walnuts for extra crunch and flavor. I loved the grilled pears–grilling was a  novel way to bring out flavor in this fruit (at least for me), and pears + bleu cheese is just classic. The lemon vinaigrette complemented the spinach and the sweetness of the pears really nicely as well. Now I want more.

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Curried Waldorf Salad with Pears

While lacking in color contrast, slightly under-ripe pears make a great substitution for apples in a Waldorf Salad. Do not be fooled by looks, for crunchy celery + toasted walnuts + sweet pears + chewy raisins + a spicy mayo/yogurt dressing to hold it all together are a definite treat to the palate in terms of flavors and more so, textures!

Curried Waldorf Salad

Adapted from the New York Times

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 cup plain 0% fat Greek yogurt

3/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt to taste

1 under-ripe anjou pear, chopped into bite-sized pieces

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup lightly toasted walnut halves

1 cup thinly sliced celery, from the heart of the celery (or as many stalks as your taste for crunch goes for)

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup celery leaves or flat-leaf parsley (or 2 tablespoons each), coarsely chopped

Combine the lemon juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, curry powder, cumin, and salt. Set aside.

Mix together the remaining ingredients and smother with the dressing.

Couldn’t be easier! Besides the tedious task of chopping stalk after stalk of celery. But I loved this different take on the Waldorf salad–I’m getting into spicier food lately (I have had a craving for Indian food since last summer, basically) and I loved the toasted walnuts together with the pears (classic combination) and the tangyness of the yogurt and mayo. Plus, all of the celery is used, even the leaves! Kudos for less food waste!

Maple Browned Butter Poached Pears


Are you a fan of cinnamon, maple, and pears that have been sautéed in browned butter and then roasted in the oven?

If you are NOT, the aroma of said combination wafting through the house will be sure to convert you.

Maple Browned Butter Poached Pears

Adapted from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark

3 almost-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears (1 1/2 pounds), or a mixture of the two

3 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 cinnamon stick

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and halve the pears lengthwise, and scoop out the core with a spoon; I left a stem or two in for a garnish. Brown 2 tablespoons of butter in a large NON-nonstick, oven-safe skillet until frothy, and then until the milk solids are nutty brown; be careful not to burn it! Add the pears, cut side down, to the pan and cook without moving until the undersides are golden (3 min). Flip the pears and cook until golden again (3 min). Pour in maple syrup over the pan and drop in the cinnamon stick. Flip pears to original position and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake 12 minutes or until pears are just tender.

Transfer the pears to a pretty lipped plate, using a slotted spoon to leave the sauce behind. Simmer the sauce until reduced (3-5 minutes) and whisk in the lemon juice.  Spoon the reduced sauce over the pears and serve.

These were quite delectable.

Especially when served with a little whipped cream. Because I eat almost any dessert with whipped cream. Spoon a little sauce over it and you’re in maple cinnamon pear heaven. A really yummy but light-feeling dessert for a cold winter day.

I’d plan to have the entire dish eaten as soon as it’s cool enough to eat. In the fridge, the butter hardens a bit and it’s not as pretty. But, nothing a little zap in the micro shouldn’t fix.

Linguine with Caramelized Pears, Butternut Squash, and Brussels Sprouts

Butternut squash and Brussels sprouts don’t have to make a once-a-year appearance at Thanksgiving.

Thank goodness.

Pears, Brussels, squash, shallots, garlic. All caramelized to a tasty golden brown before adding some cool fig balsamic vinegar I got one day at a farmer’s market.

Serve it in a bright blue bowl from your childhood days. You know, just for fun.

Linguine with Caramelized Pears, Butternut Squash, and Brussels Sprouts

Adapted from How Sweet Eats (it looks way more appetizing over there. I would saute the veggies a little less to avoid a mushier squash. However, this did not detract from the taste one bit!)

Caramelized Pear, Squash and Parmesan Noodles

serves 2-4

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 underripe/just ripe  anjou pear, thinly sliced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (1 precut package, about 3 cups)

12-15 brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced thinly

10-12 sage leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

pinch of nutmeg

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used fig vinegar)

1/2 pound whole wheat linguine

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino romano

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Add shallots, garlic, squash, brussels sprouts, sage and pear, top with salt and pepper, then stir to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover and cook for another 5 minutes. While veggies are cooking, boil water and prepare pasta according to directions.

Turn heat under veggies down to low, then add balsamic and stir. Drain pasta, return to pot, and add veggies to pasta, toss many times to coat evenly. Add in parmesan cheese, taste, and season more if desired. Serve with additional parmesan cheese for topping.

This was so insanely good. So many different textures, tastes… subtle sweetness from the pears, contrasting a nicely crunchy and bitter flavor from the sprouts, with the tenderness of the butternut and tang of the cheese.

Let’s just say this was gone in one night. I would totally double the recipe if I had a skillet large enough.

Pear Crisp with Crystallized Ginger

Fruit crumbles/crisps always remind me of cool fall days, even in this mildest of Novembers. Usually we make a Cranberry Apple Crisp for Thanksgiving, but this year we decided to try a different recipe: perfectly ripe pears with a glaze of maple syrup and an oatmeal/brown sugar crumbly topping.

Crystallized ginger complements the pears nicely and adds an extra zing of flavor. And it’s so easy–peel pears, slice, mix with filling ingredients, pour into pan. Mix up the topping, sprinkle on top. Then, bake and enjoy. I think I recommend ice cream as an accompaniment to many desserts on here but it is especially good with this… the whole hot/cold thing.

Pear Crisp with Crystallized Ginger

Adapted from Eating Well

Topping:

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup whole-wheat or all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 tablespoons canola oil

Filling: 

3 1/2 pounds ripe but firm Anjou pears, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To prepare topping: Combine oats, walnuts, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Drizzle with oil and stir until evenly moist.

To prepare filling: Combine pears, maple syrup, raisins, flour, lemon juice and ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the pears.

Bake the crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

This was so good, about 4/5 of it was eaten within the first night. Think I’m lying? This picture was snapped before the second helpings were taken…

Just imagine this: Cooked, tender pears… bursts of sweetness from the raisins… a thick maple glaze/sauce… kicks of ginger flavor… all enveloped within toasted oats plus brown sugar, walnuts and spices. I’m off to go grab my 3rd helping… if there’s any left.

Mixed Lettuces with Anjou Pears, Walnuts, Bleu Cheese, and Pickled Red Onions

I got Sheryl Crow’s new cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy from the library and was perusing the recipes.

They all looked pretty tasty. I wasn’t sure what to try.

When in doubt, ask someone else what looks good!

My dad decided on this salad. It contains many of his favorite elements: blue cheese, red onions, walnuts. Plus, I got to try a few new ingredients and cooking techniques like pickling. I’d never heard of champagne vinegar — but it is quite good and very champagne-y. Plus I discovered I actually like the taste of moldy cheese. Who knew?

Mixed Lettuces with Anjou Pears, Walnuts, Blue Cheese, and Pickled Red Onions

Adapted from Sheryl Crow’s cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy, pg 165

Serves 4

6 cups mesclun

1/2 cup champagne vinaigrette (see below)

2 Anjou pears, sliced and cored, not peeled

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (3-4 ounces)

1/2 cup Pickled Red Onions (see below)

In a large mixing bowl, toss the mesclun with about 1/4 cup of vinaigrette, then divide the greens among 4 plates/bowls. Lay 5-6 slices of pear on top of the greens on each plate, then sprinkle on some walnuts and blue cheese. Finally, place some pickled red onion on in a visually appealing fashion. Drizzle on more vinaigrette and serve.

Champagne Vinaigrette – pg 177

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 small shallot or 1/2 a large one, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Using a blender or food processor, blend the vinegar with shallot, mustard, honey and garlic powder until just mixed.
Put the blender on medium speed and slowly drizzle the oil through the tube while it runs, until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time if it seems to thick; but I didn’t have to do this. Season with salt and pepper, and use immediately or refrigerate (shake/whisk before using).

Pickled Red Onions – pg 221

1 medium red onion, peeled, halved, and julienned/thinly sliced

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Place sliced onion into glass/ceramic/nonreactive bowl large enough to hold the onions plus, later on, the pickling liquid.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water with vinegar, salt, and sugar, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, pour over the onions, covering them. Stir and let stand for 4 hours at room temperature.
After 4 hours, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This salad was really yummy, especially the champagne vinaigrette. The pickled onions were a little strong for me, but if you are like my dad who loves jalapeno peppers and/or hot seeds on everything, you’ll probably like them. I didn’t bother to toast the walnuts… Okay, truth, I tried toasting them in a skillet and then forgot about them, leaving me with lovely burnt walnuts… so, I decided to use raw. All of the various ingredients really complement each other. This meal would especially be good with fresh picked baby lettuces from your garden, if you have one.