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Monday, December 6, 2010

delicious salad and a fruity side built from what was in the fridge

you know what it's like. you're pumping away on the exercise bike, watching an episode of "the office" on the ipad, and going over the list in your head of produce that will go bad if you don't act fast. this time, the scene lead to two successful side dishes-- the watercress and pear from the ravioli dish i never made were split up and turned into a salad using fennel leftover from the pickled fall veggies, and a zingy side of pear and roasted beets with apple-mustard vinaigrette. 

this salad is out of this world. spicy watercress and cool fennel take on a vinaigrette sweetened by dried cranberries, and are perfectly complimented by nutty, toasted pecans. absolutely delicious, quick, and special enough to serve to guests or for the holidays. 

fennel and watercress salad with cranberry vinaigrette 
adapted from

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch watercress
1 fennel bulb
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

mix the two vinegars in a bowl and add the cranberries. let the cranberries soak for about a half an hour, then whisk in the salt and olive oil.

shave the fennel bulb into thin slices using a mandoline. combine watercress with fennel, toss with some of the cranberry vinaigrette, and top with toasted pecans.

this pear and roasted beet combo is really nice and is a great way to sneak some fruit into your diet. (somehow, i love to buy fruit, but when i get it home the appeal vanishes. so i kinda *have* to trick myself from time to time.) the oil-free dressing using apple jelly and mustard would be wonderful on just about anything, i've decided. and, bonus, the pears turn PINK!

asian pear with roasted beets and apple jelly-mustard vinaigrette

1 bunch small beets
1 asian pear
2 Tbsp apple jelly (we used a cinnamony apple cider jelly-- sooo good)
4 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard

preheat oven to 400 degrees. remove the beet greens (save these to saute in olive oil or toss in a casserole or soup!), scrub the beets, and wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil. roast them on a cookie sheet or baking dish until they are tender. this takes FOREVER. allow more than an hour, even for small beets. when beets cooked, allow to cool and slip the skins off. slice thin using a mandoline or knife. 

peel the pear and cut into chunks.

to make the dressing, heat the jelly, balsamic, and mustard over low heat in a tiny saucepan until jelly is melted. combine with pear and beets and serve. 

beets from alm hill gardens
georgia pecans from my wildly awesome aunt jane!

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