Chef’s Notes: A very complicated name for a very uncomplicated dish! 🙂 I love a salad made with spinach, pears, blue cheese, and nuts. (Google it and you’ll find a billion results.) I’ve toyed with the idea of making this combination into an entrée salad by adding some sort of meat. On Saturday, I picked up some pears at the farmer’s market, wanted to make the spinach-pear salad, and had some ground beef lurking in the fridge. Hrm. Maybe…meatballs in the salad? Maybe…stuff the blue cheese into the meatballs instead of tossing it in the salad? Too weird?
Well, it is a bit odd, I’ll admit. But it’s also a delicious and delightful blend of flavors. It’s satisfying and filling without being heavy.
Spinach Pear Salad with Sweet & Spicy Nuts and Blue-Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs
1/2 T. olive oil
8 oz. ground beef
1/2 C. panko
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh parsely, finely minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely minced
1/2 T. lime (or lemon) zest
1/2 T. lime (or lemon) juice
Dash each of salt and pepper
1/4 C. crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the olive oil on a baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, combine ground beef, panko, egg yolk, garlic, rosemary, thyme, lime zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal pieces.
Take one of these pieces and form into a flat circle. Sprinkle a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of blue cheese on the circle of meat, and then form meat around the blue cheese to form a meatball. Place the meatball on the baking sheet. Repeat this whole process with remaining meat mixture until you have formed eight meatballs.
Bake meatballs for 30 minutes. After the meatballs are in the oven, immediately begin to make the nuts.
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend (or a mix of cayenne pepper, cumin, and coriander, which is basically what the blend is)
1/2 C. unsalted nuts (I used a blend of almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
Grease a small baking dish with one tablespoon of the butter. In a skillet, melt the other tablespoon of butter. Add sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and Mrs. Dash. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add nuts and cook until liquid thickens and coats nuts. (This only takes a minute or two.) Spread nuts on baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake, stirring once or twice, about 15 minutes.
While the meatballs and nuts are cooking, prepare the salad.
4-6 C. baby spinach leaves
2 ripe Bartlett pears
Juice from half a lime (or lemon)
Wash the spinach leaves, remove the stems, and tear into bite size pieces. Peel and core the pears and cut into bite-size pieces.
Divide the spinach between two plates and arrange the pears around the edges; drizzle with lime juice. (The lime juice is all the dressing this needs (in my opinion). There’s a lot of bold intense flavors going on in this salad.) Place hot meatballs on the spinach and garnish with the nuts.