September 28, 2008

Roasted Red Onion & Pear Salad

This roasted red onion and pear salad is a harmonious blend of flavors, colors, and textures. The sweetness of the onion and fruit is balanced by a bracing citrus and mustard vinaigrette. Crunchy smoked almonds tie the whole salad together.

2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
6 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
salt and pepper
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges, with root end intact
1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated but left whole
1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach (about 8 cups)
1 ripe pear, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup smokehouse almonds, chopped coarse
1/4 c dried cranberries

Adjust over rack to middle position and heat oven to 400.

Whisk orange and lemon juices, mustard, honey and thyme in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 4 tbsp oil. Season with s&p.

Toss onion wedges with remaining 2 tbs oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Transfer to baking sheet and roast until brown and soft, 25 mins, flipping wedges halfway through cooking. Cool 15 mins.

Divide Bibb lettuce leaves among individual salad plates. Toss spinach with 1/4 cup dressing in large bowl, then divide spinach among plates. Arrange roasted onion, pear, goat cheese, almonds and cranberries on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve.

  • Roast the onions in a hot oven until softened and browned to temper their strong flavor. Cut the raw onion into small wedges, leaving the root end intact to hold each wedge together.
  • Make sure to use fresh chopped thyme; dried thyme tastes dusty and bland unless it is fully hydrated.
  • Smokehouse almonds, or salted, smoked almonds, add valuable flavor. Regular almonds, toasted and chopped, will do in a pinch.
  • Keep this fresh (and pears from turning brown) by tossing the chopped pears with a couple teaspoons of lemon juice.

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