Friday, March 11, 2011

Foodie Friday: Pear Walnut Salad with White Tea Vinaigrette Dressing

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Several weeks ago  a few friends and I decided to check out a tea lounge called Tranquil Tea Lounge for a weekend lunch.  This place was amazing!  Each of us enjoyed our own tea. I opted for the Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos, which was absolutely delicious! 

     Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Not only did they have fabulous tea, but they also served fantastic food.  I enjoyed their Pear Bartlett Salad drizzled with a white tea vinaigrette dressing, which inspired me to try this on my own at home.  

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

This brings me to my recipe for today, which is a Pear Walnut Salad with White Tea Vinaigrette Dressing.  I love the variety of savory, sweet, and tartness of the salad.  When opting for a cheese on salad, consider a flavorful one, like gorgonzola or feta, since you won't need to use as much of it.  I also prefer to make my own salad dressing because I can control what goes in it, especially the sodium and sugar. Commercially prepared dressings are often too salty for my taste.  Have fun with the salad. Make it yours.  If you prefer mixed greens or arugula, go for it!  If you like pecans over walnuts, have at it.  I'd love to hear about your interpretation, so shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.  Enjoy!

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. 

Pear Walnut Salad with White Tea Vinaigrette Dressing

White Tea Vinaigrette Dressing 
Adapted from: Country Home
2 tsp of loose white tea leaves OR 1 bag of white tea
2/3 cup of white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp of honey
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme OR 1/3 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp minced shallots
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil

1.  If using tea leaves, place in a tea ball.  Place the tea ball (or tea bag) and vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat, and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until cooled.  Once cooled, remove the tea ball or tea bag and gently squeeze to extract as much of the vinegar as possible into the pan.   
2.  Place the tea vinegar into a glass mixing bowl.  Add the honey, thyme, shallots, and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk until well blended and smooth.  Continue whisking and add the olive oil to the mixture in a slow, thin stream.  Makes about 1 cup.  Store in a tightly covered jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.      

Pear Walnut Salad   
10 oz (about 4 cups) baby spinach (You can use mixed greens, arugula, or other leafy greens of your choice, too)
1 pear, sliced (Bartlett or other variety like Anjou)
1/4 c gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 c walnuts, chopped
White Tea Vinaigrette Dressing (served on the side)

1.  Toss the spinach, pear, gorgonzola, and walnuts together in a large bowl.  Serve the dressing on the side.
*Note: If you like the added flavor and aroma of toasted nuts, you may choose to toast the walnuts in a pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Serves: 4
Nutritional Information: (salad with 2 Tbsp of vinaigrette dressing)
Calories:  219   Carbohydrate:  13 g   Fat:  17 g  (8 g monounsaturated)   Protein:  5 g   Cholesterol:  10 mg   Fiber:  2 g   Sugar:  7 g  (1.5 g added)  Sodium:  220 mg 
Excellent source of: omega-3 fatty acid, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium  
Good source of:  thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and calcium 

Nutritional Information for the vinaigrette alone:  (per 2 Tbsp)
Calories: 95   Carbohydrate: 2.5 g   Fat:  9 g  Monounsaturated fat: 7 g   Protein:  0 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg  Fiber:  0 g   Sugar:  2 g   Sodium:  75 mg  


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