A fruity and nutty salad worthy of an entree

Recipe and photo by Kaye Lopez

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the salad

2 yellow pears, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1 pound bag of mixed salad greens (preferably with baby arugula and/or baby spinach)
½ cup basil, separate leaves and discard stalk
½ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, separate leaves and discard stalk
½ cup dates, sliced into thin strips
¾ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
½ cup caramelized pili nuts
2 spring onion stalks, white and green parts finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Balsamic-glazed mushrooms

1 ½ cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the dressing

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Collated studies from the University of Maryland Medical Center and the American Heart Association show that pears are impressive sources of fiber. Fiber is a good source of potassium, which is known to prohibit muscle and tendon problems, amounting to 212 mg per medium-sized pear.

Directions:

1.  To prepare the balsamic-glazed mushrooms: In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until soft and cooked. Pour balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms and toss until the vinegar turns into a syrupy glaze and coats all the mushrooms. Pour into a dish and set aside to cool.

2. To prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients (except olive oil, salt, and pepper). Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the dressing thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. To assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the greens, herbs, pears, mushrooms, and onions. Add the dressing and toss the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with pili nuts, cheese, and dates on top before serving.