Spinach Salad with Pears, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

This dressing is incredible! It takes about 10 minutes to make this salad and it makes the perfect side to any meal. If the pears aren’t ripe and ready in your area, strawberries, melon, or apple would be a great substitute. I omitted the pecans in my salad but it was still great. Play around with your favorite fruits and nuts to create your own perfect salad!

  • 1/2 cup of pecans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 large red or green pears quartered, cored, and cut into thin slices
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 bag of prewashed baby spinach
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese

Toast the pecans in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside and let cool.

Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper in a bowl.

Whisk in onions.

Then pears and raisins.

Add spinach and toss to coat. Divide salad onto 4 plates top each with pecans and goat cheese.

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Barley Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes

Here is another one from Cooking light. This recipe taught me how to make risotto and it is delicious with the roasted eggplant and tomatoes but can be completely customized. Add whatever vegetable you like, whatever cheese or nut, I doubt you can go wrong! Risotto is cooked with broth that is added gradually while being stirred constantly to release the starch, which gives the dish a wonderful creamy texture, unlike regular rices that are covered and steamed.

  • 6 cups diced eggplant
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 5 cups fat-free, less-sodium broth (you can use chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barely
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
  • 1/4 pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400. Combine eggplant, tomatoes, 2 tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl, toss to coat. Arrange mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer, bake for 20 minutes. Set aside.

Combine broth and water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer but do not boil. Keep warm over low heat. Heat remaining oil in a large non stick skillet over med-high heat. Add onion, Saute 4 minutes.

Stir in barley and garlic, cook 1 minute.

Add wine, cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring constantly.

Add 1 cup broth mixture to pan, bring to boil, stirring frequently. Cook 5 minutes or until liquid in nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next cup. (about 40 minutes total.)

When risotto is done, gently stir in eggplant mixture, remaining pepper and salt. Top with cheese, basil and nuts.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Roulade

In case you haven’t noticed based on my recipes so far, a few of my favorite things are shallots, walnuts, goat cheese, and thyme has to be one of the greatest fresh herbs known to man. If you happen to be crazy and not like it, you can use rosemary in this recipe instead and I bet feta or Gorgonzola would also be a good substitute for the goat cheese. I love to serve this on a warm spinach salad for a light summertime dinner. You could throw it on the grill outside or do it on the stove top, either way you will love this simple, fresh and delicious pork recipe. This recipe is once again brought to you by my handy dandy Cooking Light subscription.

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 3 tbsp walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cooking spray

Prepare grill to medium heat. Slice tenderloin lengthwise, cutting to but not through other side. Open halves, lay tenderloin flat, place tenderloin between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with a mallet until tenderloin is 1/2 -inch thick.

Sprinkle shallots, cheese, walnuts and thyme on tenderloin.

Roll up the tenderloin starting with the long side, secure at 1-inch intervals with twine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Coat grill with cooking spray and place pork on grill. Grill for about 30 minutes or until internal thermometer reads 155F, turning after 13 minutes.

Remove from grill; lightly cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes, cut into 8 slices, yield 4 servings.

Let’s Get Started

Everyone loves a fresh green salad. Here is one of my favorite vinaigrette dressings. I stumbled upon this recipe some time ago when looking to re-create a salad from Bouchon in Yountville, CA. My reoccurring theme is fresh and simple and this delicious recipe created by Thomas Keller fits my tastes perfectly. I love a little zing so I add minced shallots and kosher salt to taste. Here I have it tossed with baby greens, topped with warm goat cheese and chopped walnuts.

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 15 seconds. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don’t be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup oil. (The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.)