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Grilled Pear Spinach Salad with White Pear Balsamic Vinaigrette

I had a fantastic traditional Thanksgiving meal prepared by my very diligent, hard working Mom.  She has this meal down to a science.  For years, she has kept a notebook and each year she records how many people came to dinner, specifically what she served (doesn’t vary too much), how much her turkey weighed that year, how long she cooked it and other tiny details that she loves to observe and make note of.  It is a beautiful annual event and she does it right every year! One request I’ve made in the past few years is that we add a bright green healthy vegetable option.  In years past, warm green bean casserole and creamed corn sufficed for the vegetable; these veggies didn’t cut it for me.  It’s not that I have a need to eat particularly healthy on Thanksgiving.  Like most, I definitely indulge in seconds and thirds, munch on way too many appetizers (olives, cheese and cashews were this year’s culprits) and eat a slice of at least two different types of pie.  But I love to see and taste a bright green vegetable in the midst of the neutral palate of old tom turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and rolls.  So each year my Mom asks me to bring a bright green veggie (whether anyone else really cares about it or not, she knows it makes me happy to have it there).  This year I chose a salad that was bursting with bright fall flavors and colors.  Pears were the star of this spinach salad that I had at The Seasoned Farmhouse’s Taste of Fall cooking class in October; grilled pears topped the salad and canned pears were used to sweeten a simple vinaigrette.  Brilliant and delicious!  I adapted the recipe slightly to my own needs and tastes.   I picked up a ten year old White Balsamic Vinegar at the Oilerie in Grandview last week to use in my vinaigrette.  If you haven’t been there, it is an olive oil and vinegar “bar” where you are encouraged to taste all sorts of aged flavored oils and vinegars that come directly from Italy (there are a handful of Oileries across the nation so check out there site if you aren’t able to hit up the Grandview, Ohio location).  So here’s to a delicious healthy green side tasty for any special holiday dinner or any night of the week.

Grilled Pear Spinach Salad with White Pear Balsamic Dressing (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

2 firm pears, sliced lengthwise

12-16 oz. bag of fresh spinach

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup walnuts, toasted (could substitute toasted pumpkin seeds or squash seeds)

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (use good quality)

White Pear Balsamic Dressing

1 small can (8 oz) pears in syrup

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar (can sub regular balsamic vinegar)

½ cup olive oil

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat grill pan to medium high heat.  Grill pears appx. 3 minutes per side or until acquiring grill marks (Cast iron grill pan is preferred but I only have a Calphalon grill pan so I put a heavy pan on top of the pears to add weight in order to get the grill marks).  In food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients.  If serving in large bowl, toss just the spinach with the White Pear Balsamic Dressing and then toss in other ingredients (keeps amount of dressing down).  Or if plating individually, top spinach with all other ingredients and drizzle with White Pear Balsamic Dressing.

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Adapted from Tricia Wheeler’s Grilled Pear Salad (of The Seasoned Farmhouse)