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Spinach, Pear and Walnut Salad

Unlike many fruits, pears ripen off the tree, and they ripen from the inside out, so they may feel very firm on the surface even when soft inside. To test for ripeness, press just to one side of the stem end; if it gives, the pear is ripe. To ripen pears quickly, put them in a paper bag along with a banana. Check once a day to see how the ripening is progressing.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs. walnut oil
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of hot-pepper sauce
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 4 pears, such as Bosc or Anjou, peeled, halved, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Toast the walnuts
Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes; do not let them brown.

Make the dressing
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, walnut oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot-pepper sauce and pepper until smooth.

Assemble the salad
Add the spinach, pears and walnuts to the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Arrange on plates or in bowls, sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Salad, by Brigit L. Binns (Oxmoor House, 2007).