This past weekend I had one of my best friends and her husband over for dinner. I just love cooking for others; it’s a beautiful and practical way to show love and appreciation. Kenny and I are obsessed with smoked beer can chicken – seriously the best thing ever – and since Kenny would be working all day, it was the perfect quick smoked meat for the meal. Knowing that when the chickens come out of the smoker they get devoured immediately, with complete disregard to any other accompanying dishes, I thought it would be a good idea to do a few courses before hand so we got a balanced meal. It was the perfect plan! A delicious soup and this delicious salad later, we were already 3 servings of fruits/ veggies deep before those mouthwatering chickens came in from the smoker. And then they were gone.
I have mixed emotions about salads. Too much salad is not a good thing (kidney stones from the calcium! Eek!), and too much of the same salad will burn you out of eating greens. Just because it’s a “salad” doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy either, especially after the super processed, sugary dressings and all those crunchy, fried toppings. I love a clean-eating salad with a homemade vinaigrette, one with fresh produce and nuts and fruit. I feel amazing eating clean, homemade foods; varying my salads helps me stay on my game and not get tired of eating healthy.
I’ve made this salad several times, and many of the ingredients are staples in my pantry. Dried cranberries and walnuts are a go-to on most of my daily lunch salads, and manchego is a top 3 cheese in my book (gruyere, brie, manchego, if you were wondering). Quinoa makes the dish a bit more hearty, and the pears are perfect. Seriously, everything in this salad works so well. And at 30 minutes of prep time, it’s the perfect dish to add to your menu.
Peras Manchego SaladPrint Recipe
- About 4 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 Bartlett pears
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- Manchego, sliced thin
Prepare the quinoa. Bring quinoa and 1 cup of water to a simmer in a small pot. Cover and allow to cook on low heat until fluffy and soft (about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Slice pears thinly. Add butter, brown sugar and pears to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pears are soft but still crunchy and beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat.
Prepare the vinaigrette. Combine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and whisk to combine. Add olive oil in a slow stream while whisking constantly. Salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, place vinaigrette in a large bowl. Swirl vinaigrette around the edges to coat bowl evenly. Add arugula and toss to coat. Divide greens equally between 4 plates. Top with quinoa, pears, berries, nuts, and cheese. Fresh ground black pepper is a nice finishing touch.