I've re-discovered recently just how much I adore salad.
I've rationilized that it is because they're like a sandwich without the bread.
I'm a HUGE sandwich freak, I love them. I think I love them so much because they are so versatile, you can put just about anything inside of them and they're always delicious and satisfying. Salads are very much the same. They can have all sorts of flavors and components tossed in, they can be spicy, they can be fresh, cool, creamy, tangy. So many possibilities!
This salad is mind boggling delicious. . . creamy gorgonzola is tossed with a mixture of fresh spinach, romaine, and arugula that's been topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, slivered almonds, reduced balsamic, basil infused olive and oil and the crowning glory (*insert some royal horn sounds here*) oven roasted bacon wrapped pears. It's really quite healthy (except for the bacon, but it's not enough to truly count, this would make an excellent healthy lunch), fairly easy, and filling yet light at the same time. There are many different flavors mixed in that all seem to shine both together and separately. I urge you to give this recipe a shot, you won't be dissapointed, trust me! I paired it with a freshly brewed mint/decaf english breakfast iced tea with a little whipped honey mixed in. Truly, outstanding!
Recipe: Mixed Green Salad with Bacon Wrapped Pears
1 pear of your choice (I used a green anjou)
1/2 pound thick sliced pepper bacon, sliced in half and also cut lengthwise in half
whipped honey (see #3 in directions)
1 cup washed baby arugula
1/2 cup washed spinach
1/4 washed and chopped romaine
A healthy chunk of creamy gorgonzola (I rarely measure cheese, especially in salads, adjust to your own preferences and taste)
10-15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4 TBLS slivered almonds
Reduced Balsamic to taste, used as dressing to drizzle (recipe below)
2 TBLS basil infused olive oil (I simply purchased this at the store)
Directions: (Preheat oven to 375 degrees)
1. Wash pear thoroughly, cut into thick slices (I had about 12-14 thick slices of pear)
2. Wrap slices of bacon around each slice of pear, secure with a toothpick and place on a wire rack above a sided cookie sheet prepared with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup).
3. Place a small dollop of whipped honey on top of each pear/bacon combo. (This will create a sugary caramelized crust on top of the peppery bacon, mmmmm).
4. Place bacon wrapped pears in the oven for appx. 15 minutes, after 15 minutes flip the bacon wrapped pears over and continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes until bacon is cooked, juicy and crisp.
5. While the pears are cooking: place arugula, spinach, romaine, gorgonzola, almonds, tomatoes in a large bowl and toss.
6. When the pears are finished roasting allow them to cool for about 5 minutes.
7. Place slightly cooled pears atop your salad mixture.
8. Drizzle with reduced balsamic and basil infused olive oil and toss.
9. Eat it and enjoy!
Reduced balsamic is extremely easy, a little hard on the nose while it's reducing, but oh-so worth it. My advice is: open all the windows, and turn the fan above the stove on full blast! This sweet, rich, thick gooey balsamic reduction is good on EVERYTHING! Crostini, sandwiches, salads, soups, sandwiches, seafood. . . you name it. . . the list could go on and on. It's a staple in my house, especially in the spring and summer (it's easier to have all the windows open during those seasons, if you know what I mean. . . ) For this recipe I will give you directions for what I do when making it for this particular salad, just know you can reduce any amount you want, the key is: you will get about 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount originally being reduced. For example, if you reduced one cup, you'd get about 1/4-1/2 a cup.
Recipe: Reduced Balsamic
1/2 cup aged balsamic
pinch of sugar (this is not necessary if your balsamic has been thoroughly aged, about 10 years or more)
1. Place balsamic (and sugar if using it) in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Whisking constantly bring to a simmer.
3. Continue to whisk and simmer for about 15 minutes, until balsamic is thick and syrupy.
So, brew up a good batch of refreshing mint iced tea, sit and enjoy!