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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dinner Tonight: Pear, Avocado and Arugula Salad

Lots of times I've wandered the produce department trying to imagine different flavor and texture combinations to create a great salad. Sometimes they are a hit and sometimes they are just OK. Regardless on how it turns out it's a healthy and easy way to explore different ingredients. Tonight I think I made a pretty good salad, at least good enough to be blog worthy.

When I am creating a salad the first thing I like to decide on is what type of green to use. For this particular salad I choose Arugula which is probably my favorite salad green. Arugula has such a nice peppery/earthy taste I find it hard to pass up. Next thing I grabbed was a Avocado. I appreciate Avocados for there smooth cool texture and subdued taste. I consider them natures answer to butter. I picked one that was just barley firm because I knew I wasn't going to use it for a couple of days. When buying an Avocado always grab a lime to counteract the oxidation process. Since I had two soft ingredients in my salad I needs some items with a more crispy texture. Why not a pear? Pears like Apples are a great fruit to add to salad and their natural crisp will match up nicely to a Avocado. At some point and time I had Pears and Blue Cheese together and it was a great match so I grabbed a tiny block of moldy goodness to crumble on my salad. Realize I said I grabbed a block. I see pre-crumbled Blue Cheese in the supermarket all the time(as well as feta). Have Americans become so lazy that they cannot crumble their own cheese now? When buying a salad items try to purchase ingredients that have had as little manufacturing as possible. Stay away from precut vegetables and fruits for optimum freshness. Last thing I bought was Pine(or Pignoli) Nuts. Pine Nuts are great as is but when you toast them lightly it really brings out a more nutty complex flavor and it really makes a nice salad topping.

Tonight my wife went to Chili's of all places with her friends so this turned out to be a dinner for one so I decided not to measure anything. First I prepared the Arugula. Tear the green leaves from the tough bottom stems and give them a nice wash and put in a salad bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a separate bowl and add a fair amount of salt and pepper. Whisk in the juice of a half lime until it is well blended. Next remove the flesh from the Avocado. Here is a nice way of peeling a pitting the vegetable: I then cut the Avocado into little cubes and put it on top of the Arugula and squeezed some lime juice on them. Next I washed and sliced my Pear and added to the top of the salad. Next I cut a couple of rings Red Onion that I already had and added that along with some Blue Cheese that I crumbled gently with my fingers. Finally I topped it off with some Pine Nuts I lightly toasted in a skillet. You just want to brown them slightly not burn them.

*FYI- Though Avocados are very healthy they are high in calories so this recipe may not suit you if you are on a diet

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