Stacked Pear Salad

Stacked Pear Salad

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.

Stacked Pear Salad
Stacked Pear Salad
Makes 4 servings.

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.
►Serve immediately.

Stacked Pear Salad

Chopped Greek Salad

Greek Salad

My grandmother is Greek and Polish. Her Greek side always dominated in the family though. So you’d think I would have grown up eating delicious Mediterranean food, but sadly she wasn’t gifted with the domestic goddess gene. She could make three good dishes, moussaka, baklava and Greek salad. At major family gatherings we only entrusted her with the salad. She added a colorful variety of chopped vegetables and a yummy lemon olive oil dressing. I always looked forward to it.

In Greece, a salad is served with every meal. The trendy Mediterranean diet rises above the rest of the fads. It actually recommends eating real, whole foods and healthy fats at every meal. All of your foods are working for you.

Colorful foods used throughout Mediterranean cooking combats the aging process. More color equals more antioxidants. We’re exposed to free radical damage every moment of our lives, the air we breath and even sunlight generates free radicals. These wreak havoc on our bodies, damaging the fragile fats in each cell leading to less resiliency. Free radicals speed up the aging process. That’s where antioxidants swoop in to save the day.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, stopping harm in it’s tracks.

Antioxidants are best received from food. Plants contain hundreds of compounds which work in unknown ways. The science needed to discover them doesn’t exist yet, so it’s impossible to bottle them in supplement form. We simply don’t have the formula to recreate all that a plant feeds us. Antioxidants are made up of hundreds of elements and supplements only contain one to ten of these isolated components. Just one fruit of vegetable can contain more than 150 compounds. A famous study, the CARET study, showed that antioxidant supplements actually cause more harm in the body, offering little benefit. Dr. Michael R. Eades puts it perfectly, “It’s almost always better to pop the plant than to pop the pill.”

The recipe is as simple as it gets. With an abundance of antioxidants and healthy fat, you could eat a variation of it every day for a nutrition boost. Throw some fish on top and you have a complete meal.

Greek Salad

Makes 6 servings.

2 cups zucchini – chopped
1 cup carrots – chopped
2 cups tomatoes – seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups avocado – chopped
1 cup cucumber – seeded and chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/4 cup feta – crumbled (optional)

juice of 1 lemon – about 1/4 cup

1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic – minced
3 tbsp olive oil

►In a large bowl, whisk together lemon, garlic, sea salt and then drizzle in olive oil.
►Toss zucchini, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado and olives together with the dressing in the bowl. Add in feta just before serving.


Risk factors for lung cancer and for intervention effects in CARET, the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial,

Protein Power Life Plan, Drs. Michael R. and Mary Dan Eades,