Spinach Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola

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Pears with gorgonzola is  just one of those classic combinations. Put them in salad with any kind of greens. Pick what you like best, anything from a spicy arugula or watercress to a mild butter lettuce.We used fresh baby spinach.The same goes for the pears: Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou or Comice would all be great choices.

And since the ingredients in this pear salad are so delicious, a champagne vinaigrette with a hint of lemon juice and Dijon mustard worked best for this salad. A heavy dressing would mask the delicate flavors.  A sprinkling of cheese, walnuts and  pomegranate arils also adds flavors and makes for  delicious lighter first course to start off a meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons minced shallot
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese*
1 medium Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced*
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils), for garnish
1/2 toasted walnuts, roughly chopped, for garnish

Champagne Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
For the Salad:
In a large bowl, add shallot,  salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisking constantly while drizzling the oil slowly. Add the spinach and toss with tongs until the leaves are well coated.

For Champagne Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl or glass jar, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil  and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, evenly divide spinach greens between 4 salad plates. Top each plate with cheese and garnish with pear slices, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts and serve with a drizzle of champagne vinaigrette.

*Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute Blue cheese or Roquefort cheese for the Gorgonzola.
Any variety of apple can also be used as a substitute for the pears.

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Pollo Al Carbon (Marinated Chicken Kabobs)

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From Heather Thomas

“The Essential Mexican Cookbook”, 1995

Ingredients:
Juice of 2 limes or lemons
1 Tablespoon honey
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 chicken breasts
For the avocado sauce:
1 large avocado, peeled, stoned and mashed
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato, skinned and chopped
2  scallions, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
Seeds of 1 pomegranate

Directions:
Make the marinade:squeeze the lime or lemon Juice into a large bowl and mix in the honey, chopped chilli and olive oil, until the mixture is well blended and smooth. Bone and skin the chicken breasts and cut the flesh into large chunks. Add to the marinade and stir gently until thoroughly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Thread the chicken on to wooden skewers and brush with the marinade. Place under a preheated hot grill or cook on a barbecue, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked, tender and golden brown. Brush the kebabs with more marinade if necessary.

Meanwhile, make the avocado sauce: blend the olive oil and vinegar together in a bowl and then beat in the mashed avocado until thick and smooth. Stir in the chopped tomato and scallions, and then the sour cream. Serve the kebobs accompanied by a mound of avocado sauce, scattered with pomegranate seeds.