roasted pear & arugula salad + a glimpse into my thanksgiving

I had such an enjoyable Thanksgiving break with my family last week. In addition to making our entire three course meal, I watched Christmas movies with Nick and my dad (after Thursday of course), helped decorate our tree, went thrifting with my grandma (it's our thing,) endlessly cuddled with my chocolate lab, taught Nick how to flour the board and roll out pastry dough, went to the Bucs game with my family, and spent time with a few of my best friends that I sadly hadn't seen in what felt like an eternity. I was really dreading making my way back up to Gainesville on Sunday, but after eating like some bomb-ass champions, I knew it was for the best for my poor, very overly-stuffed body. I kid you not, I think I put my body in shock with how much I consumed.

Our menu on Thursday looked something like this:

1st course
Roasted pear & arugula salad with blue cheese, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts

2nd course
Maple sage turkey breast
Brown sugar & butter sweet potatoes
Buttermilk mashed potatoes
Roasted green beans with a creamy tarragon dressing
Sage cornbread stuffing

3rd course
Pumpkin cheesecake

Everything turned out so delicious and we were gorging on left overs for days. Honestly, I look more forward to left overs than I do to the actual dinner on Thanksgiving day. I don't even want to admit the amount of sweet potatoes I consumed within a two-day period. Embarrassing? Probably. Pure heaven in my mouth and well worth it? Absolutely.

I hadn't planned on posting any recipes from Thanksgiving or even photographing the food, but the smell coming from the oven was mouthwatering and solely changed my mind. I was able to snap a quick photo before my ravenous family dug in. The texture and flavors paired so well together and after the first bite we all pretty much fell in love. Ina Garten never disappoints. Seriously love her! Well, maybe not her, per se, but her recipes & barn house are pretty damn awesome.

They basted in a port-apple cider-brown sugar dressing. Sounds foodgasmic right? It was. (This photo was taken just before they entered the oven. Such beauties)

It's never a Centola holiday without antipasta. (Thanks Dad!) And as you can see, the fam got to this before I did.

I did my baking the day before (best decision ever, folks.) Here are some shots of the ingredients I used in my pumpkin cheesecake.

This is one of my favorites. How happy does Nick look playing around with the flour and helping me out in the kitchen? Makes me unbelievably happy to see him taking interest at such a young age.

My beautiful chocolate lab, Roxy. All she wants is your unconditional love. And food.

Now back to this perfect holiday salad. Recipe is after the jump!

Roasted pear & arugula salad with blue cheese, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts
Yield: ~6 servings
recipe from the barefoot contessa

  • 3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 3 ounces coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese such as Stilton
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons port wine
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 ounces baby arugula
  • Kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel the pears, slice them lengthwise into halves, and remove core & seeds with a melon baller and sharp paring knife. On the back, rounded side of each pear, trim a small slice off so that they will sit flat in the baking dish. Toss the pears with a little bit of lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange the pears core side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them.
Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and toasted walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation. I found it easiest to use a small teaspoon to do this.

In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.

Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. This dressing is so good! Arrange arugula and pears all together on a platter, or serve individually. Drizzle each pear with some basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

(P.S.The pears are even good cold from the fridge the next day. Or later that night.... :X)


...And enjoy :)


  1. Wonderful!! Nick is so cute as is Roxy ;) You did a mahhhhvelous job!!

  2. Your blog is so lovely. Great photos. Your break sounds nice...watching Christmas movies, snuggling with a lab and eating lots of food! I'm impressed by the menu too. Quite a feast!


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