Monday, March 31, 2014

Pear & Spring Onion Salad with a Tarragon Dijon Vinaigrette

Despite yesterday's weather, I'm convincing myself that Spring must really be here because SPRING ONIONS have arrived!  It's almost as awesome as the springtime arrival of asparagus.  Almost.  If this is your first encounter and you've been eyeing those giant sprouty things suspiciously, fear not because you are in for an awesome treat.  It's like a two for one deal with spring onions, because you get the green part which are somewhere between a chive and a leek, and then the bulb which is like, well, an onion.  But a delicate and sweet one.  Plus, the ones in this week's Crop Share are Vidalia spring onions, so that means even more sweetness.  I know for sure I'll be using two of the bundle to make my favourite Chicken In A Spring Onion Cream Sauce (is amazing over meaty fish like salmon or swordfish too!), but I made myself reserve one of the bundle to experiment with.  On Saturday we got a call that afternoon from some friends to come over for dinner, and since you should never show up to a dinner party empty handed, I decided to whip up a salad from among the Crop Share ingredients I just brought home.  And thus the following yummy and crisp salad was born!  So if you're sheepish about the spring onions, let this salad be your gateway drug into spring onion mania!

Pear & Spring Onion Salad with a Tarragon Dijon Vinaigrette


1/2 cup sliced almonds, unsalted
1 Tbsp local honey
1 head leaf lettuce, chopped
1 Vidalia spring onion, ends trimmed and diced (both green and white parts)
2 pears, cored & thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I used some of the delicious Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar from Virginia Vinegar Works that's available at Nalls)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried tarragon

In a skillet over medium heat, toss almond slivers with honey to evenly coat and toast almonds until golden brown.  You'll want to keep a close watch and stir fairly often to prevent any almonds from burning.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, diced spring onion, pear slices and cooled, honey almonds (you'll likely have to break them apart as when they cool they turn into almond candy).

Then in a medium sized bowl, briskly whisk together oil, vinegar and dijon until you have a smooth, creamy dressing.  Add in salt, pepper and tarragon and whisk to fully incorporate.  Pour as much or as little of the dressing over the salad as desired, toss to coat and serve.

Makes a wonderful side salad with dinner, or add in some grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon to turn this into a complete meal.

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