Healthy & Delicious: Mixed Greens with Pears, Pecans, Blue Cheese, and Honey Balsamic Dressing

Editor's note: On Mondays, Kristen Swensson Sturt of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share healthy and delicious recipes with us. Take it away, Kristen!

[Photograph: Kristen Swensson Sturt]

If I had my druthers, salads would be made of nuts, cheese, and a fruity dressing with a few leaves of arugula sprinkled on top. Alas, those druthers miss the whole point of a salad, which "should" be a light, healthy meal. I'm not alone, though. Visit any restaurant, and you'll find salads packed with heavy (albeit delicious) add-ons, making them slightly less nutritious than a bag of Big Macs.

But it doesn't have to be that way. By maximizing the impact of your extras, you can create a healthy salad you'll want to eat. Let's use Mixed Greens with Pears, Pecans, Blue Cheese, and Honey Balsamic Dressing for an example. The vinaigrette recipe comes from Catherine Walthers Soups + Sides, while the remainder of the ingredients are fairly standard salad toppings.

  • A little bit of an assertive fromage goes a long way. I used a pungent blue in this case.
  • Amplify the nuttiness of nuts by toasting them.
  • A whole, chopped up pear adds sweetness and another dose of produce.
  • Toss the greens in half the dressing, so guests would get a little bit in every bite, without drenching the whole thing.

By following these simple rules, you can serve a salad that leaves room for the main course. That is, unless they want seconds.

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Healthy & Delicious: Mixed Greens with Pears, Pecans, Blue Cheese, and Honey Balsamic Dressing

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:15 minutes
Special equipment:small pan, 2 small bowls, 1 large bowl, tongs

Ingredients

  • For the salad:
  • 4 ounces mixed greens, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 pear
  • 2 wedges lemon
  • 1/4 chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • .
  • For the dressing:
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Procedures

  1. 1

    Slice pear into thin wedges and cut those wedges in half. Place pear pieces in a small bowl, and squeeze lemon juice them. Toss gently to coat. Set aside.

  2. 2

    In a separate small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together.

  3. 3

    In a large bowl, toss mixed greens with half the dressing. Top with pear, pecans, blue cheese, and cranberries if using. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

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