Monday, 16 December 2013

5 Spice Poached Pear and Beet Salad

It's freezing here in Kale Eats country and I wouldn't have it any other way!  Think I've lost my marbles?  Let me explain.  Our backyard is home to a large ice rink, lovingly built and maintained by Don, year after year.  In fact, I think this is our seventh year with a rink of some sort.  While this sounds very quaint and idyllic, the reality is both hard work (done entirely by Don) and a lot of worrying (also done entirely by Don).  Will it be cold enough to freeze?  Is there a leak in the liner?  Is the ground level enough that the water doesn't need to be too deep?  Friends, this is my entire winter.  The weather channel is constantly being checked, with the long range forecast a beholden sight.  Should Mother Nature alter her course, it's possible swearing occurs.
Although I jest that it's painful to live with this "stress" in my house, the truth is that the rink brings much joy to our home.  Watching our own kids and their friends whizzing about in the backyard is a thing of beauty.  There are days they last 6-8 hours out there, as long as we deliver hot drinks and food periodically.  Don's built a small cubby with a heater and seats when they want to take a break.
On these cold winter's night there is nothing like a comforting warm bowl of soup.  There is no shortage of soup recipes on this site, but sometimes you need a little something to serve along side it. The salad has a nice warming winter feel to it, despite being cold and fresh.  The spices evoke memories of hot apple cider alongside the earthy beets.
I won't be delivering this salad out to the skaters in the backyard anytime soon; they prefer hot apple cider and cookies, but I might enjoy it while looking out the window at them.  The components can all be made in advance which makes assembly both quick and easy. We have also enjoyed it with some cooked quinoa tossed in to make it more of a substantial meal.

5 Spice Poached Pear and Beet Salad

adapted from LCBO Food and Drink

2 whole cardamom pods, crushed
1 whole star anise
1 whole nutmeg
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp salt
2 thin slices ginger root
2 wide strips lemon zest
1 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup honey

2 pears, peeled, halved and cored
2 small beets, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
2Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup toasted almonds
4-6 cups spinach
1 carrot, thinly sliced

Combine first 10 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat.  Add pears and poach 5-10mins until just tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Add beets to hot mixture and poach 10-15min until tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Strain the liquid mixture to remove all spices and solids and return to saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 10min until syrupy and reduced to about 1/3 cup.  Transfer to a mason jar, add oil and salt to taste.  Shake and reserve. 
To serve, on 4 plates arrange a pile of spinach.  Top each with 1/2 pear sliced thin and 1/4 of the beets and carrots.  Drizzle dressing on top and sprinkle toasted almonds.


No comments:

Post a Comment