Before you freak out, I’ll admit I was a skeptic, too. A few days before Christmas my mom told me about this salad my aunt made and I was like, “Yeah, sounds gross, Mom.” She said, “I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good.” On Christmas Eve, my parents, youngest sister (and this year her boyfriend) and I make a pretty nice dinner and play cards. The tradition started when we were still in college and the other sisters were married or dating and had plans. That first year we just drank margaritas and played pinochle. As the years went on, the food started to take center-stage, maybe even having a “nicer” meal than we have on actual Christmas Day. Of course “nice” is in quotes because it’s all relative. My mom is an excellent cook, and it would be expensive and a lot of work to cook these meals for a crowd – and probably impossible to serve it in the sit down manner we do on Christmas Eve.
So this year, I bring you MY Christmas miracle: this salad. I’m sure it has some fancy name, but I just call it “that one salad.” And for our purposes here, I’ll call it a “Pear, avocado and blue cheese spinach salad.” It also has onions and walnuts on it.
Still not convinced? Read on.
I was shocked I not only liked this salad as much as I did, but that I thought of it everyday. I’m not a blue cheese fan. And I’ve never liked pears. That was until Mom explained that I’ve been eating them way, way under-ripe. Would I like green strawberries? No. Would I like hard pineapple? No. Would I like a hot guy serving me drinks by my pool? Yes. Of course. Wait, I don’t have a pool. Would I like to have a pool? Yes, if I had that same sexy dude cleaning it. Wait, I feel like I’ve lost focus.
Pears get a bad rap because I think MOST people eat them when they’re under-ripe. I always described them as dry. And they ARE dry when they’re not ripe. They look like apples, so I don’t think we realize they’re supposed to get a little soft as they ripen. Soft apples = rotten. Soft pears = perfect. On top of that, I know a lot of people, including me, shy away from blue cheese. This salad doesn’t over-do it on the cheese like most salads are over-topped with shredded cheddar or other mild cheeses. Blue cheese is a stronger cheese, so you only need a little bit. I don’t have to tell you how this is good for your waistline!
I think avocados and walnuts are generally accepted foods, so I won’t tout their delicious traits, other than to say, YES, PLEASE!
And finally, red onions. I personally love all onions. If red onions are too strong, I believe the original recipe used green onions.
I guess I’ve forgotten to give spinach a run for its money. I’m actually not a huge all-spinach salad fan. I love lettuce of all kinds. And I’ll admit, I tend to love iceberg the most. But I will throw spinach into a salad, mostly for nutritional value. I’ve also been the girl who calls spinach dry. So when it was a salad where I didn’t like or care for three of the ingredients (spinach, pears and blue cheese), I didn’t have high hopes. But I am also annoyed by picky eaters for some reason. I used to be one of them, so I think I realize the error of my ways. And I just want people around me to give foods a chance rather than shunning everything without trying it.
So I gave it a chance.
Then daydreamed about the salad every single day (no lie) for two weeks, until I made it myself. And I’ll probably eat the heck out of it until I get sick of it.
If you want to make it a meal you could throw some grilled chicken or steak on it. That night we had this salad with Mom’s bread (which is a post for another day), and Pacific Rim grilled steak and veggies with Chinese noodles (If you haven’t had this steak, do it!). Best dinner I’ve had in a long time! And for lunch today I’m having this salad with chicken and avocado soup, which is also a post for another day. I slightly altered the soup recipe, but not enough to not give you the recipe now.
Here’s the recipe:
Spinach, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp white vinegar
1 ½ tsp prepared mustard
2 cloves garlic, chopped or ground
½ tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
Salad (the amounts for the salad are estimates – my mom layers everything on each individual plate)
1 bag spinach
1 pear, peeled and diced (they have them in a four-pack at Aldi)
2 avocados, diced (again, best price at Aldi)
1/2 red onion or handful green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 – 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled (yes, you can get at Aldi, too!)
walnuts or pecans