I have made this a few times now, and I truly think it is fabulous. My mum was over the other day and she loved it. I love when my mother loves something I made, makes it all the more special. My kids at first wouldn't try it, looked at it and thought no, don't like it. But my kids have to try something before they can state they don't like it, absolute rule in my house. One bite and they were hooked, they loved it. They loved the pear, the spinach, the sultanas, they loved it all.
This is super, super easy to put together, parts of it can be made in advance. The dressing can be made in advance, just keep it refrigerated. If you made it in the morning but need it for dinner, just remember to remove it from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.
The walnuts can be toasted hours in advance, just allow to cool, then store in an airtight container until needed, you can also use hazelnuts. To toast walnuts place them on a baking paper lined oven tray, then put them in a preheated 180C oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned, alternatively, you can dry fry them in a frying pan over medium heat, until lightly browned. If using hazelnuts, toast the same way, however if they have skins on them, once toasted and still hot, place in a tea towel, wrap them up and rub them together, to remove the skins, some of the skins won't come off, but get as much as you can off.
I have also made this with sultanas instead of the cranberries, as I didn't have cranberries at home. And as I dislike sultanas, I thought I'd just avoid them, but with the dressing the sultanas were delicious, I ate every one of them.
With the spinach, I use baby spinach, and my measure is my bowl, it is literally 4 or 5 massive handfuls, or 1/2 a fruit shop bag full (I'll weigh it next time, and edit my ingredients), but it is literally one large bowlful of spinach.
When I make this for my kids school lunches, I omit the walnuts and onion, and serve it with crumbed pork neck or chicken.
This salad is something you really need to make. Make it for your next party, barbecue, dinner and watch your guests fall in love with this salad.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
White Pepper, to taste
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (you need about 1 cup)
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
4-5 large handfuls of baby spinach (see description above)
2 firm, but ripe Bosc or Williams pears (do not peel)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
Dressing: In a small jar with a tight fitting lid, add the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Put on the lid tightly and shake it all together to combine. Taste, add extra seasoning if you feel the need, I never needed to, but it is to taste.
Place the onions in a medium bowl, top with cold tap water and leave to soak for 30 minutes. This is an important step, it takes away the rawness of the onions, they become delicious in this salad like this. Drain well before adding them to the salad.
Place the cranberries in a small bowl, top with 2 tablespoons of the dressing, stir and leave to macerate for 30 minutes or until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Wash the spinach leaves and remove any excess water.
Just before you want to assemble the salad, quarter the pears lengthwise, remove the core and slice into long thin slices.
Assemble the salad just before serving, place 1/2 of the spinach, 1/2 of the onions, 1/2 of the pears, 1/2 of the cranberries and 1/2 of the walnuts in a large serving bowl. Give your dressing one large shake, then pour over half of your dressing, toss to combine. Now I put on the remaining ingredients, thinking of presentation, so scatter over the remaining spinach, onions, pears, cranberries and walnuts. Drizzle over the dressing, but don't stir this time, you want it to look good.
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