This salad was inspired by day at the beach in Aiguablava, and a meal with my two children at Toc al Mar (http://www.tocalmar.cat/). It was a perfect Mediterranean summer day, with a white sand beach dotted with kids and families, a glassy sea and gentle breeze, sun glinting off of the rafters of the restaurant’s open patio and tables with colorful striped tablecloths and informal, earthenware place settings. I wanted to take the kids to have lunch so we made a reservation and left our towels, sand toys and umbrella’s at the beach while while we ate overlooking the sea.
I do what I often do with my kids, order two sides and a main dish and split them all between the three of us; we got grilled fresh muscles, skin-on baked potatoes with romesco sauce and a spinach salad with pears, avocados, onions, parmesan cheese and crispy fried onions. (I also ordered a glass of Albariño, not shared) The kids love muscles and have fun opening the shells, and are generally not fans of salad, but they really liked this one, probably because of the sweetness of the pears and the parmesan, which- since it is cheese- pleases them. The salad was dressed with a light citrus vinagrette.
I loved the salad so much I wanted to make it at home. I adapted a little bit by adding croutons and I used fried shallots instead of onions. I also used goat cheese instead of parmesan but decided later I prefer the texture of parmesan, which is combines well with the crispy onions. Fry them in advance, by slicing the two or three shallots very thin.
The salad was simple to prepare: Slice two shallots very thin and fry in olive oil until golden. Also fry a couple of day old bread slices, cut into chunks, until crispy. Toss the baby spinach leaves with olive oil, salt and pepper, then sprinkle with a little red wine vinegar (2 tsp). Add 1/2 thinly sliced pear, 1 avocado cut into chunks, and 2 or 3 oz. parmesan or goat cheese. Top the salad with the onions and croutons.