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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Winter Pear Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Soup is one of my go-to meals during the winter months. This was a busy week as we gathered, sorted and loaded feeder calves to prepare for the cattle sale in Pratt today. (More on the cattle sale next week on Kim's County Line ... no time to write it this week!)
So on Monday,  I made Pasta e Fagioli to warm up quickly for noon meals. But no matter the temperature outside, we also love green salads.

This salad made its first appearance at our Moore Christmas gathering. It was a novel way to use the ubiquitous cranberry during the holidays. Though cranberries aren't in the produce case any longer, you can often find them in grocery or discount store freezer cases any time of the year. And, if you can't find fresh cranberries, you can top this salad with a raspberry vinaigrette, poppy seed dressing or another favorite fruit-friendly salad dressing.

I also served the salad for our immediate family's Christmas celebration. But with presents to open and fun to be had, I didn't get any photos taken.

In January, I made it again - just for the two of us at home. At that time, pears were on sale at the grocery store ... bonus! If you want additional color and nutrition, you could add other berries. Throughout the winter, my hometown grocery store has had different berries on sale. This week, it's pineapple, which would also be a flavorful addition. You could also add grapes, apples, mandarin oranges or any other colorful fruit to brighten up a winter day.
On Tuesday, we went to Wichita to attend The Illusionists, a magic show, at Century II. Attending the show was one of Randy's Christmas presents from me this year.

Beforehand, we ate at Avi Seabar and Chophouse. I had a similar salad, topped with grilled salmon. (I should have taken a photo of it, too. Too late now!) Let's just say it cost a lot more money than the salad I made at home. (The salmon, however, was better than I can make here. It probably wasn't discount salmon that came from the frozen food case. Just keeping it real, folks!)

Still, with a little effort, you can make a restaurant-quality salad at home for a fraction of the cost. Enjoy!

Winter Pear Salad
with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Recipe adapted from Favorite Family Recipes
Spring mix salad, bagged or boxed
Fresh pears
Pumpkin spiced pecans (see below)
Feta cheese crumbles
Dried cranberries
Cranberry Vinaigrette dressing (see below)

Use as much of the ingredients as you need for the servings you need. Combine all the ingredients and toss with vinaigrette to taste. (Or you can serve the dressing on the side and have people add their own dressing to taste).

Pumpkin Spiced Pecans
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mix sugar and pumpkin pie spice in small bowl until blended. Add sugar mixture and pecans to a small skillet and heat on medium heat until sugar is melted, stirring constantly as the sugar starts to melt. Be careful not to burn. As soon as the sugar is melted onto the pecans, pour pecans onto foil or parchment paper to cool. Once cool, store in airtight container or plastic bag.

Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Pour cranberry mixture into a blender. Add olive oil, vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth.

The dressing with be thick and creamy. If you prefer a thinner dressing, add small amounts of water (or orange juice), 1 tablespoon at a time, until of desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Depending on how many people you are serving, you won't use all the pecans or dressing for one salad. Refrigerate leftover dressing and store extra sugared pecans in a sealed plastic bag.

I doubled the recipe for dressing, knowing that I could use it for other salads, too. 

3 comments:

  1. Looks delicious! Alas, we don't get fresh cranberries or pumkin pie spice.

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    Replies
    1. I always find it interesting to hear about the differences. There are so many similarities, too, though!

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