Spinach salad with Poached Pears

by Kelly on March 7, 2009

Tonight was one of those nights where nothing in particular was on the menu so my focus became how to use up my lovely fresh produce before it had a chance to go bad. Among the contents of my fridge were a forgotten full bag of baby spinach and some lovely Forelle pears. I chose this pear variety because they were included, poached, as part of a lovely roast duck for two my boyfriend and I had at Salts Restaurant in Cambridge to celebrate my birthday. The pears were so perfectly poached and sweet that when I saw the same variety at Stop & Shop I couldn’t help but grab four. They are a very small and juicy variety that are yellow in color with a tinge of orange-red when ripe. Inspired by our fancy meal out I decided to recreate the poached pears but instead serve them atop a spinach salad (roughly inspired by this recipe). To round out my greens I included toasted walnuts and one of my favorite cheeses – Wensleydale with Cranberries. All of the above ingredients were tossed gently in a pear vinaigrette which made use of, among other things, 2 of the poached pears and some of the liquid. The result was an elegant and satisfying salad for one that was entirely created from contents of my pantry and refrigerator.

Spinach Salad with Poached Pears
Serves 1
-4 Forelle pears (These are quite small so if you cannot find them they are the equivalent of 2 medium sized pears)
-1/2 cup white wine
-1 cup water
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 whole star anise
-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
-1 teaspoon grated orange zest
-1/2 a small cinnamon stick
-2 tablespoons walnut oil
-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
-Salt and pepper to taste
-2 cups spinach
-2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
-2 tablespoons Wensleydale with Cranberries
Peel pears leaving stems in tact. Place in the bottom of a saucepan.
Into the saucepan, add the wine, water, sugar, vanilla extract, star anise, lemon and orange zest, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. To check, I like to stick a toothpick into the thickest part of the pear. You are looking for the pear to be tender, but not mushy or hard. Cooking time can vary depending on ripeness and size so I fully recommend checking to ensure you get the right texture.

Strain the pear mixture reserving the four pears and 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. You can discard the spices. Core and slice the pears. You will use two pears for the salad and two for the dressing.
To make the dressing, puree two of the pears along with the poaching liquid walnut oil, sherry vinegar in a food processor or blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Toss together the remaining pears with the spinach, walnuts, and cheese along with two tablespoons of the dressing, or more to taste. You will have lots of leftover dressing, but do not worry as it is quite tasty. Serve and enjoy!

I’m also submitting this to Blogger Secret Ingredient Pears hosted by Mara from What’s for Dinner and conceived by My Bizzy Kitchen

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Reeni? March 7, 2009 at 4:08 am

That is one combo I’ve never tried but can imagine as really delicious! Pear dressing sounds divine!


Reeni? March 7, 2009 at 4:08 am

That is one combo I’ve never tried but can imagine as really delicious! Pear dressing sounds divine!


Teresa Cordero Cordell March 7, 2009 at 7:14 am

Kelly, what a delightful salad. I love it. It’s so perfect for this time of year. Thanks my friend. Great recipe.


Elina March 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Yummy! What a great way to use up fresh produce. Love how you get inspired by restaurant meals!!


Kerstin March 7, 2009 at 9:42 pm

We always have fresh spinach and pears in our fridge – what a great idea to combine them in a lovely salad! I just discovered your blog and I’ve had fun going through your posts!


Joanna March 8, 2009 at 12:23 am

hey kelly!!! i have missed you!! hope you’re doing well. your salad looks so delicious. it’s so classy and upscale. i’ve been eating loads of spinach lately. i can’t get enough of the stuff- kale is good, too.

have a great sunday, girlie!!


Carolyn Jung March 8, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Roasted pears also make for a great addition to a salad. I remember making a recipe like that once from Bon Appetit magazine, I believe.


ttfn300 March 8, 2009 at 10:39 pm

i LOVE poached pears 🙂 and this salad sounds simply fabulous!


Kelly March 9, 2009 at 3:47 am

Reeni -Thank you. It’s quite delicious and makes the salad seem anything but ordinary.

Teresa – Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

Elina – Should I assume you are back from your vacation? I love getting inspired by restaurants. It often gives me ideas for new combinations.

Kerstin – Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you found my blog because it gives me the opportunity to explore yours as well.

Joanna – Thank you for the comment. 🙂 Any big squirrel sightings lately?

Carolyn – Mmm. I’ll have to track down that recipe to see what the variation was. Thanks for the suggestion!

TTFN- Thanks. It is so simple to make and yet elevates spinach and pears.


HangryPants March 10, 2009 at 5:55 am

I actually prefer poached pears to fresh, so this is awesome! Thanks.


Kelly March 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Hangrypants – You’re welcome. I’m the same way when it comes to pears and this recipe takes great advantage of them. I’m planning on trying them poached in other combinations. I’m thinking a chai spiced version would be lovely.


Mo March 11, 2009 at 1:01 am

This sounds like the perfect salad to serve for Easter! I love a great salad with fruit, nuts, and cheese. Thank you – thank you!!


Kelly March 11, 2009 at 1:55 am

Mo – You’re very welcome. I didn’t even think to associate it with Easter, but you’re right. It would be perfect for an Easter brunch or dinner. Yum.


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