Pan Roasted Pear Salad
The first time I made this pear salad was for a Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter’s home. We had to travel for several hours to get to where she lived, so my contribution to the dinner had to be something I could carry with us without cooking ahead of time. I was still trying to figure out what to make when I heard a report on a National Public Radio show that featured this salad.
After some experimenting with the original recipe, it’s now one of my go to dishes for potluck dinners and other occasions where I want to contribute something to a meal that I can make ahead of time. I can mix the greens in a large bowl, prepare the rest of the ingredients and simply assemble the salad when I arrive.
I often use an infused balsamic vinegar for the pears, usually a dark chocolate balsamic from Basiks. As for the pears, D’Anjou or Bartlett seem to work best, but I’m guessing Asian pears would be good, as well. I may try them next time around.
This recipe serves four, but if you allow about 3/4 of a pear per person, it’s easily adapted for larger or smaller numbers of people.
3 ripe but firm pears (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, quartered and cored
2 1/2 tsp. sugar
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
green leaf lettuce torn into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
2 bunches watercress
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved
- Toss pears, 2 teaspoons sugar, a pinch of sea salt, and a couple of grinds of fresh pepper in medium bowl.
- Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
- Add pears cut-side down in single layer and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Using small spatula or fork, tip each pear onto second cut side; continue to cook until second side is light brown, 2 to 4 minutes longer.
- Turn off heat, leave skillet on burner, and add 2 tablespoons vinegar; gently stir until vinegar coats pears, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer pears to large plate and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
- Cut each pear quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Heat the butter in a small saute pan until it stops frothing
- Toast the chopped pecans in the hot butter until they start to brown and become very fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and shallot together in large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- arrange lettuce, watercress, and cooled pears on four salad plates;
- Add shaved cheese and nuts, then drizzle with the shallot dressing.
- Serve immediately.