Spinach Salad with Poached Pears
-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!