Christmas came early this year. We had a pre-Christmas celebration with my family in south Florida last week. It was 75 degrees and clear, blue skies everyday. My body soaked up the sun, the humid sea salt air and the therapeutic beach sounds. The hubby and I were grateful to be out of the winter chill and have a peaceful place to relax.
I spent a few Christmases down there as a kid, yet it’s still odd to see palm trees decorated like candy canes. Going from the northeast to the tropics numbs the holiday spirit a bit. We managed to keep the Christmas music playing as a reminder that it’s still December. I was so disoriented until I heard “White Christmas” playing.
The highlight was our special Christmas dinner, surf and turf style. We stood in line for over an hour to buy the perfect lobster tails. The guy selling them had a solo operation in a parking lot. Fresh caught in the morning and selling it all by noon. Word spread fast that he had the freshest seafood in town and we were willing to wait.
It was just four of us for dinner so I wanted to make this Stacked Pear Salad for a showstopper dish. We needed a light salad to begin our heavy meal. The tangy dressing matches perfectly with the pear’s sweetness. I baked the pears slightly to soften them a bit. Otherwise, I think they’re too hard to enjoy. Everyone loved it and it may have stolen the spotlight from the lobsters.
4 ripe Bosc pears
2 cups arugula
½ cup sweet onion – thinly sliced
optional: ½ cup Maytag blue cheese or goat cheese
Red Wine Vinaigrette
3 tsp raw honey
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
►Combine all vinaigrette ingredients except the olive oil. Allow to sit for a minute. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk together.
►Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
►Using a paring knife, core each pear from the bottom. Make sure to remove all seeds. You may need to cut a flat bottom to ensure the pear stands upright without falling. Slice each vertically into four sections. Then stack back together and place in a baking dish. Bake 7 minutes until just slightly soft.
►To assemble, place the bottom pear slice onto a salad plate. Top with arugula, onion and drizzle with dressing. Repeat until all sections are stacked. If you include cheese, you can use it like a glue to keep the sections together.