Pan Roasted Pear Salad

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.

Salad with Pan Roasted Pears

Salad with Pan Roasted Pears


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


  1. Toss pears, 2 teaspoons sugar, a pinch of sea salt, and a couple of grinds of fresh pepper in medium bowl.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
  3. Add pears cut-side down in single layer and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. Turn off heat, leave skillet on burner, and add 2 tablespoons vinegar; gently stir until vinegar coats pears, about 30 seconds.
  6. Transfer pears to large plate and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
  7. Cut each pear quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
  8. Heat the butter in a small saute pan until it stops frothing
  9. Toast the chopped pecans in the hot butter until they start to brown and become very fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  10. 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.
  11. arrange lettuce, watercress, and cooled pears on four salad plates;
  12. Add shaved cheese and nuts, then drizzle with the shallot dressing.
  13. Serve immediately.

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