Salad with Pears, Cranberries, Red Onions and Cashews
his spinach salad speaks to all the wonderful autumnal flavors of the Pacific Northwest. The new crop of bronzed Bosc pears is piled high at the farmers' market; the hazelnuts have been harvested, shelled, and bagged for sale; and the cranberries arrive from the Long Beach, Washington, coastal bogs. I buy sweetened dried cranberries from a local producer, but they are readily available at the grocery store (Ocean Spray is a good-quality packager), found alongside raisins and other dried fruits. This salad is a snap to assemble if you buy the packaged prewashed and trimmed baby spinach.
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 10 cupsspring mix
- 3 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into long, thin slices
- 1 1/2 cups salted cashews
- crumbled goat cheese
Adapted from epicurious.com
To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Place the onions in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 30 minutes. This crisps the onion and takes away the raw onion taste. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of the dressing to soften them. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve the salad.
To assemble the salad, place the spring mix, onions, and pears in a large bowl. Give the remaining dressing a last-minute shake and pour over the salad. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange the salad in a large serving bowl or divide it evenly among 8 salad plates. Scatter the cranberries and hazelnuts over the top(s). Serve immediately.
Toast cashews, as directed above for hazelnuts, for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.
The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance, covered tightly, and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving. The nuts can be toasted up to 1 day in advance; store at room temperature in an airtight container. The onions and cranberries can be prepared up to up to 4 hours in advance. Set aside at room temperature.
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