Despite my best efforts to stay current and to read my magazines as they come in, more often than not I have a stack of back issues sitting on my nightstand, longing for attention. In fact, I just read the December issue of Real Simple on the subway to-and-from work today. Although the articles were completely irrelevant for this time of year, I just couldn't put the magazine in the recycling pile without flipping through it first.
The inspiration for this salad, which I alluded to a few weeks ago at the end of one of my Ten in 10 posts, came to me as I was going through old issues of Martha Stewart Living. I'm guessing the original recipe was intended to be a side dish, but my brain couldn't help but add ingredients to it in order to transform the dish into something slightly more substantial and something more suitable for a main course. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have swapped out the walnuts in favor of pecans, but I've been challenging myself to give second chances to ingredients that I had previously scratched off my list of "likes." So the walnuts stayed in. And, surprisingly, I really enjoyed them in this salad. Especially after warming them in the olive oil and bringing out their natural oils.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how the sweetness of the Comice pears paired wonderfully with the saltiness of the Parmesan cheese. Had my budget been bigger, I would have used goat cheese in this salad, since I love the combination of spinach and goat cheese, but the Parmesan works perfectly well. Chances are, you'll already have Parmesan in your refrigerator if your kitchen is well stocked. And, if you want to add some tartness, as well as a bit more color, then toss on a handful of dried cherries or cranberries.
It turns out that this salad not only sounds good, but it is also good for you. Here is a list of just some of the health benefits of the ingredients:
- Spinach - Antioxidants, Iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K
- Olive Oil - Antioxidants, Monounsaturated fat
- Walnuts - Omega-3 fatty acids
- Pears - Dietary fiber, Vitamin C
Baby Spinach Salad with Warm Olive Oil, Walnuts, and Comice Pears
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces (about 3 cups packed) baby spinach, washed well
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 Comice pear, halved and sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved
- Combine the walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until the walnuts are toasted, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, toss the spinach with white wine vinegar and arrange on plates.
- Top the spinach with walnuts and drizzle with the warm olive oil.
- Arrange sliced pears on top of the spinach and walnuts and garnish with shaved Parmesan. Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler, Taste As You Go
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