Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Arugula, Pear, and Parmesan Salad

It suddenly occurred to me to throw some pears in a salad last night. We were having a savory cheese pie (don't ask for the recipe--my mom brought it down from Chicago and it was hand made by some Polish bakers) and it just screamed for something crisp alongside. Inspired by the The Cook's Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking recipe, the salad below was the result. It was simply divine--another one of those cases where a handful of simple, good-quality, ingredients is all you need for stand-out food.

The crispness of the pear and lemon flavors really balanced out the slight peppery taste of the arugula with the mellowness of the Parmesan. Using coarse salt seems to really make the flavors pop even more. The proportions in the original recipe were off to me, so I've adapted it. If you don't have the nut oils (which are wonderful!--but quite a bit more expensive & should be stored in the fridge as they can go rancid), feel free to use extra virgin olive oil. This would be a really impressive and easy bistro-style salad for a weekend lunch with soup or quiche. I hope you'll try it!


Serves 4
  • *5 oz. fresh arugula (washed & dried)
  • 2 pears, original recipe calls for Bartlett, I preferred Bosc (brown skin, slightly crisper & more tart)
  • 3 oz. FRESHLY grated Parmesan (if you can grate big long pieces off of a chunk, even better!)
  • Juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, slightly toasted
  • 2-3 Tbsp. hazelnut, almond, or walnut oil
  • Sea salt & freshly groun pepper, to taste
Microwave the walnuts for about a minute or so until they are JUST toasted. It really brings out their flavor. Or, you can toast them lightly in a frying pan (with no extra oil) over medium heat for a couple minutes--being careful not to burn them!

Core the pears and slice (thick is asked for in original--I prefer thinner slices)--no need to peel. Moisten with lemon juice to keep the flesh white.

Combine the nut oil and remaning lemon juice with the pears. Add the arugula leaves and Parmesan and toss. Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt and toss once again.

Turn the salad out onto four small plates with more shavings of Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serve this salad with good bread.

*You can find arugula at most grocery stores these days--it's prepackaged in a plastic container near the different kinds of salads or spinach that are also prepackaged (near refrigerated salad dressings).

(By the way, it is nearly impossible for me to get good food pictures if taken at night. Anyone have any tips on how to them better?)

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