I created this salad for my Aunt who asked me for a warm spinach salad. It was the least that I could do considering all the times she made me hot chocolate pudding at a moment’s notice, colored endlessly with me, and generally just loved me to pieces! I wanted to combine a few ideas I had been dreaming about and incorporate some New England flavors. I came up with this salad which marries a touch of sweet roasted pears and nutmeg with a savory hot maple dijon mustard dressing.
First I roasted the pears with sweet onions, garlic, nutmeg, salt, pepper, olive oil, a touch of butter and lemon juice.
While the pears roasted I got out my ingredients for the dressing and crumbled the blue cheese so it would be at room temperature.
When the pears were done I removed them from the pan into a large bowl.
I put the pan on burner and added a little butter, olive oil, lemon juice and white wine. Then I whisked in equal parts dijon mustard, country dijon mustard, pure maple syrup, salt and pepper. I let it simmer for a minute and then removed it from the heat.
Now all I had to do was assemble the salad. I put a mix of spinach and arugula in the bowl with the pears and gently tossed them with some of the dressing. I let it sit for a minute to wilt a bit, then served it in a bowl and put some of the pears on top, added blue cheese crumbles, a drizzle of dressing and another drizzle of the pure maple syrup.
Roasted Pear Stilton and Maple Mustard Salad:
2 Red Bosc pears cored and sliced medium thin
4 cups baby spinach and arugula mix
1 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
6 ounces Stilton blue cheese crumbled roughly
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Country Dijon mustard
4 Tablespoons pure Maple syrup
Juice of one whole lemon
2-4 Tablespoons white wine
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Put the pears, onions, garlic, nutmeg, half the lemon juice, and half the olive oil and butter into a roasting pan and mix well. Roast at 450 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice until lightly browned and softened. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving some of the juices in the pan and add the spinach and arugula mix on top of the pears. Put the pan (using oven mitt) onto a burner on medium high heat and add the rest of the oil and butter. When melted add a little salt and pepper, the lemon juice and wine, and whisk around trying to get some of the brown bits from the roasted fruit. Then add the 2 mustards and the maple syrup whisking well and letting simmer for a minute. If it’s too thick add a little more wine or lemon juice, if it’s too thin add some more mustard. Remove from the heat. In the bowl where the pears and spinach are pour about half of the dressing and toss lightly. Serve in bowls (serves about 2-4 depending on if it’s a main dish or side) and add the blue cheese, a drizzle of dressing, and a slight drizzle of maple syrup.
Options: You can just use straight spinach, or any other mix of greens. Don’t like pears? Use apples. Do Not Sub pancake syrup for pure maple syrup – I would use honey before I did that. Need a hit of meat? Add crisp bacon or pieces of crisply fried ham. Hate blue cheese? Crumbled goat or feta cheeses would be equally delicious.
This salad is simple and quick despite having a slightly long list of ingredients. It has a rich warm flavor that makes it taste like a winter comfort food although it’s fairly light and healthy. The pears are slightly sweet and the maple syrup adds a richness to the salad that is tempered by the peppery mix of arugula and spinach and spicy mustard. The dense sharpness of the Stilton cheese is the perfect partner to this addictive savory salad.