Here is a gourmet salad if ever there was one. It's perfect for winter, hosting seasonal ingredients that are easy to find at the farmers market or your local supermarket right now. It's healthy. And it's incredibly tasty. What more could you ask for?
I'll tell you what you could ask for. Roasted fruit. Pears, to be specific. Who ever said salad had to be cold? A bed of beautifully peppery arugula and mixed baby lettuces, tossed in a spicy pomegranate dressing, is oh-so-welcoming to that warm-from-the-oven pear. If you know what's good for you, you'll make this as soon as possible. I made it tonight for my husband and mother-in-law, and we were all very pleased! I was particularly pleased to see the empty plates at the end of it.
If you're not familiar with agave syrup, you can find it in most natural foods stores and even some supermarkets. It comes from the same plant tequila comes from, and is an all-natural sweetener that is great to have around. It's a lot like honey, but honey would be too sweet and thick for this recipe.
Roasted Pear Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine
3 small ripe but firm pears (I used D'Anjou)
2 teaspoons agave syrup
3 tablespoons unsweetened pomegranate juice
1 1/2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons EVOO
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 tablespoon minced shallot
pinch of sea salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon of adobo sauce (from chipotles in adobo), OR pinch ground chipotle chile
pinch of ground cloves
2 cups baby arugula
1 cup mixed baby lettuces
1. The pears: Preheat oven to 350. Slice the base off each pear to make it stand upright. Remove cores from the base if desired. Place pears on a baking sheet and brush them with agave syrup. Roast until browned and tender, 30 to 45 minutes. (Mine took about 40). Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.
2. The dressing: Combine pomegranate juice, vinegar, EVOO, brown sugar, orange zest, shallot, salt, pepper, adobo and cloves in a glass jar or other seal-able receptacle and shake vigorously to combine and emulsify. Alternatively, puree in a blender.
3. The assembly: Toss arugula and lettuce with the dressing in a large bowl and divide among three plates. Top each bed of greens with a pear and serve.
I can't speak highly enough of this dish. I truly believe that a great salad involves skill that most people don't appreciate. Give this one a go and you'll feel pretty damn proud.