This salad is so pretty and tasty. The flavors blend very well together. I would suggest using a concorde pear (its vanilla-sweet flavor and firm texture holds up nicely when baked). Bartlett is also a good choice.
1 tsp. butter
2 firm-ripe pears
1 & 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. dried cranberries
8 slices ciabatta bread (I used a roll form)
3 oz. blue cheese
1/3 c. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
5 oz. baby spinach
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
Grease baking sheet with butter. Core pears and cut each into 8 wedges; toss with sugar and place on sides on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until soft and browned on undersides. Transfer to plate or wax paper to cool.
2. Place almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and toast 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in half of the cranberries and set aside.
3. Reduce oven to 400°F. Cut each slice of bread in half, brush each side with a little olive oil and toast on baking sheet for 3 minutes per side. Remove from oven and divide crumbled cheese among toasts. Return to oven and bake 4 minutes more.
4. Meanwhile, in blender combine remaining cranberries, vinegar, honey, and mustard. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. With blender running, add 1/3 c. oil in a slow steady stream.
5. In bowl toss together the spinach, half the almond mixture and dressing to taste. Divide greens among tumblers or bowls; top with pears, toasts, and additional almond mixture.
makes 8-10 appetizer servings, or 6 regular servings
*All ingredients are available at the Green barn excepting the ciabatta bread and Dijon mustard.