Cookbook author Mindy Toomay's blog about eating for health, cooking with spirit, and celebrating life in northern California. Here she dishes up food rants and raves, recipes, and plenty of kitchen wisdom.

By your own efforts, waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.
-- The Dhammapada

Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity?
-- Peter Mayle



I'm writing an article about pears for a great vegetarian cooking magazine called Veggie Life, so I have pears on the brain today. Not just on the brain, but all over my house. I have dozens of pears in bowls and baskets and arranged on plates. They are scattered here and there, in various stages of ripeness, so I'll always have some perfect pears to use in my recipe testing.

They come in so many colors and sizes, and their textures range from buttery soft to slightly crunchy. They are really gorgeous fruits, so I don't mind decorating my kitchen and dining room with them on a regular basis.

My super-spouse loves pears, so even when I'm not writing about them, they're often hanging around. They sit within easy reach ripening to perfection and eventually get grabbed and gobbled up without any adornment. But I like to cook with them, too. They're extremely versatile, lending their loveliness to savory dishes, not just desserts.

Here's one example, a pear and spinach salad (have I mentioned that I really like spinach salad) with the crunch of toasted walnuts and the spicy zip of cumin vinaigrette. It's a great way to use those tender baby spinach leaves you can buy pre-washed in a bag.

Blessings and bon appetit!

Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons pear cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 medium pear, unpeeled
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
6 cups washed and dried baby spinach leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup toasted walnuts pieces

Whisk together the cider, vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, cumin, salt, and pepper until emulsified, about 1 minute. Stir in the minced shallot and set aside.

Wash and dry the pear and cut in in half from base to tip. Cut each half in half again lengthwise anbd slice out the core sections. Cut the pear wedges lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices and toss the slices with the lemon juice,

Toss the spinach with the dressing, reserving 2 tablespoons. Arrange the dressed greens on 4 individual serving dishes. Fan out one-quarter of the pear slices on each bed of greens. Drizzle evenly with the remaining dressing, scatter some tasted walnuts on each serving, and garnish with calendula or nasturtium petals if available.

Serve immediately.


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Fiber said...

I love the cumin vinaigrette. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to pears, so I would have to leave them out. But it sounds lovely!

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Mindy T. said...

Hi (or should I say "high") fiber. I'm happy you liked the vinaigrette. I think pear allergy is pretty rare, but just did a bit of research and learned that Queen Victoria almost died of pears in 1872! (Then again, maybe it was lead leaching out of the pewter servings plates.) In any case, by all means, don't make this recipe as written...


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