18 January 2007

Sexy Salad

Last night I truly managed to surprise myself. In honour of my father-in-law’s 50th Birthday, I decided to branch out and try a new recipe for dinner. While this may not sound exceptional to most people, it is a huge step on the domesticity front for me. I am renowned for buying recipe books and wistfully sighing over descriptions of exciting food, but I always end up making the same old faithful dishes.

While my father-in-law is a meat & potatoes kind of man, I really wanted to try something different…something that could only be described as a culinary work of art. I was determined to create a salad so glorious, that even the most hardened Lachanophobic would drool with anticipation. Enter what I like to call, the “Sexy Salad”

The wonderful thing about salad is that you really can spice it up as much as you like. All you need is some leafy greens for your canvas and the rest of the masterpiece is entirely up to you. Last night’s salad was inspired by a recipe that I once saw on the show “Take Home Chef” on TLC. I recall a program where the chef prepared a beautiful salad with pears and a sweet raspberry dressing. Curious, I conducted one of my much-cherished “Google searches” and found a whole slue of wonderful recipes. After a quick browse, I settled on this little gem….

Roasted Pear Salad

1 cup port
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (prodotto di Modena, Italia..yay!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pears
mixed greens (I used fresh spinach and endive)
pomegranate seeds
gorgonzola cheese

Place pears on baking sheets and broil until golden brown (approx. 3-5 minutes). Set aside to cool

In a saucepan, bring port to a boil – continue to simmer until liquid reduces to ½
Set aside and cool completely.

In a blender, add cooled port, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Dijon, and shallots. Purée until smooth. Refrigerate dressing once complete.

Arrange greens on a plate and garnish with roasted pears, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. Add cooled dressing.

This salad is truly a sight to behold and taste. Because certain items were not available at my local grocer, I had to make a few moderations to the recipe. Rather than pomegranate, I used fresh cranberry. Unfortunately, I could not find any gorgonzola cheese; instead I opted for some thinly cubed mozzarella. I still think that blue cheese would be better however hubby is not a fan.

If you want to fancy things up a bit, try roasting the walnuts in a pan for a few minutes; this really brings out the flavour! I doubled the recipe in order to serve 6 people, and I still ended up with some spare dressing – Score!

The rest of the meal also went off without a hitch: mesquite pork loin, steamed asparagus, mash potatoes (for the boys), and yummy rutabaga. As if that wasn’t enough food, we topped things off with some Bailey’s cheesecake and a healthy dose of wine.

Speaking of wine, if you are looking for some insight or suggestions on your next special bottle, be sure to check out my NEW wine blog, “Wine made easy”. Aside from writing, wine has quickly become my other passion in life. While I cannot proclaim myself a wine expert (at least not yet) I am studying and “sampling” as many different varieties as I can possibly afford. I’m a wino with a cause!

Bon appétit and cheers!

1 comment:

Madeleine said...

Thanks for visiting our blog Jennifer! I too remember our visit to the museum. I am not one bit surprised that you grew up to be such a creative and fun women. Congrats on your recent marriage.

Hope to cross paths with you again some day..

Cathy and Madeleine