Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Last week I flew out of New York City to spend the holidays with my family in North Carolina. I grew up in the backside of the country where life happens at a much slower pace - especially compared to the constant hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. This has given me a chance to recenter myself and enjoy some much needed creative expression therapy. Being surrounded by family and friends, it is no surprise that food is one thing that brings us all together. I have been in the kitchen non-stop conjuring up unique dishes that intertwine the creativity I have gained from living in New York with my hometown roots. I've surprised myself even with some of the flavors I have created. One of the highlights so far has been this arugula salad with poached pear and ricotta.

This salad really highlights any meal. The whipped herb ricotta is the perfect balance of creamy and fluffy, arugula and berries add a wonderful crunch, and Merlot poached pears add a stunning blend of color and flavor. 

Herb Ricotta:

3 cups ricotta cheese
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups fresh arugula
1 cup blueberries

Poached Pear:

3 red pears, quartered
1 cup red Merlot
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Step 1:
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine ricotta, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Whip until ricotta becomes "fluffy" (about two minutes). Spread on a serving platter.

Step 2:
Layer arugula and blueberries on top of the ricotta.

Step 3:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together Merlot, sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Add pears to saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes, rotating pears halfway through. Remove from heat and transfer pears to a sheet pan to cool.

Step 4:
In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat.

Step 5:
Arrange pears atop arugula and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.

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