Pear and spinach salad with caramelized onions and blue cheese [Vegetarian]

Jaymi's Notes:
This is a unique salad with a twist -- instead of being cold and crispy, this recipe calls for very gently wilting the spinach before topping it with the hot caramelized onions, sliced pear and tangy blue cheese. It creates a great option for a warm, healthy salad to enjoy on a chilly evening.

The trick is to only very gently wilt the spinach, leaving it in the pan until it just starts to turn deep green and soften then pulling it from the heat while it still has some structure. You can, of course, keep the spinach crispy if you prefer, and it is equally as delicious. The different sweetnesses of the onions and pear, along with the savory of the cheese and spinach make this salad wonderfully easy and balanced in flavor and texture.

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© Jaymi Heimbuch

Kelly's Recipe:

This was a terrific year for pears and peaches and I haven't been without one or the other for the past 6 weeks or so. Peaches are gone now for this year, but you can still get pears. Aside from just eating them plain, there are lots of things you can do with pears to brighten up a dish. I've used them as a garnish for ravioli with a brown butter sauce and of course, they are fantastic with blue cheeses and walnuts. This year I've started using them more in salads. I made a salad the other day with little tomatoes and pears and it worked out extremely well, but I love the combination of greens and pears. I've paired them with Swiss chard from my garden, but today I'm having them with wilted spinach. This salad takes almost no time at all and is very simple to make. It makes for a nice presentation, so you could easily serve it as a first course to a dinner party or cook more and use it as part of a buffet. I you can serve it warm right away, or you can serve it at room temperature and cut the pears just before you are ready to eat. I added some salty, sharp cheese to this, but leave it off if you want a vegan dish. You could put a light oil and vinegar dressing on the spinach if you like. I left it as is to get a stronger spinach taste. You could make this with any green leafy vegetables you like such as Swiss chard or kale. Bear in mind that if you use kale it will take much longer to cook than the spinach.

Warm Pear Spinach Salad

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch spinach, washed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 pears washed, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 oz blue cheese, crumbled

1. In a skillet heat the olive oil until it just begins to shimmer. Add onions and cook over a low heat stirring often until onions take on a deep golden colour and begin to caramelize, which could take 20 minutes or so. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Once you have washed the spinach, just leave the water on it and add it to the skillet. Cook until just wilted which only takes a couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and a bit more olive oil if it seems too dry.

3. Plate the spinach and top with sliced pears, onions and cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tags: Recipes | The Cooking Project | Vegetarian | Weekday Vegetarian

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