Wow, has the weather, and specifically, the temperature, been far from consistent this winter! With that in mind and considering it just cooled down rapidly – even with wildly blowing wind and snow this week, here’s a very quick and easy way to heat up a fully flavorful sweet and savory salad made with spinach, pear and your choice or a combination of walnuts, dried cranberries and feta (or any cheese) that'll warm your body and soul on a bone chilling night. Emmm...you bet!
Plan on 5-10 minutes prep time and 5 minutes cooking time. All you want to do is warm the ingredients enough to bring out the best of their flavors without letting the spinach wilt and darn near disappear.
Here's what you'll need to make this warm spinach and pear salad and how it all goes together. As always, for a complete, easy to follow step-by-step picture book recipe, just click this link.
- 1-2 Handfuls Fresh Spinach
- 1 Ripe Pear
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves
- Olive or Vegetable Oil
- Salad Dressing
- Walnuts (I’m using raw walnuts, but you can substitute with any walnuts or your favorite nuts. Of course, skip the nuts if you or anyone eating the salad has a nut allergy.)
- Feta (or your favorite) Cheese
- Dried Cranberries (or any dried fruit)
- Ground Black Pepper (optional)
- 10-12 Inch Frying Pan
- Large Sharp (Chef’s) Knife
- Cutting Board
1. Spinach grows in sandy soil, and spinach leaves usually retain some of the sand when harvested. I therefore highly recommend rinsing the spinach rigorously with cold water in a colander even if it’s packaged and the packaging says that the spinach has been rinsed 2-3 times and is ready to use.
2. Put a frying pan on the stove and warm it over MEDIUM heat.
3. While the pan warms, prepare the garlic and pear as follows:
Garlic – Put 2-3 garlic cloves on a cutting board, cover them one at a time or together with the side of a wide bladed (chef’s) knife. Press on the top flat side of the knife with the heel of your hand until you hear and feel the garlic skins pop open. Peel the garlic skin. Hold the garlic cloves to the cutting board with curled fingers with the side of a wide bladed knife rubbed against your knuckles while cutting the garlic into slices about 1/8 inch wide. Finish by chopping the garlic slices in cross section pieces also about 1/8 inch wide.
Pear - Cut the pear in half lengthwise, cut each pear half in half again. Carefully remove the core from each pear quarter. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 2-3 slices, and cut those slices in cross section into bite sized pieces 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide.
4. Check the frying pan for proper cooking temperature by running tap water on your fingers and flicking the water onto the pan surface. The pan is properly warmed if the water sizzles when it hits the pan surface and quickly evaporates. (NOTE: If the water sizzles and evaporates in a puff as soon as it hits the pan, move the pan to a cool burner for a few minutes. Turn down the heat setting a few notches on the burner you originally used, and heat the pan again. If the water doesn’t sizzle, keep heating the pan until it does.)
5. When the pan has been warmed properly, pour on enough olive or vegetable oil to coat the pan surface evenly, and right away, add the chopped pear and garlic, a handful of walnuts or your favorite nuts (optional), and a handful of dried cranberries (or any dried fruit).
6. Use a spatula to stir the ingredients in the pan, and cook only for 1-2 minutes until the garlic becomes fully fragrant. Then add the spinach, cook and stir with a spatula, and as soon as the spinach leaves show their first signs of wilting, turn off the burner heat, add a shot of salad dressing and some crumbled feta cheese, stir with a spatula, serve warm, and either enjoy as is or with a crunch of ground black pepper to taste.