Poor Dorchester, Mass… they have the dubious honor of the “worst street art” in America. Really? I mean it’s just a pear, but I could think of worse. It’s kind of like the old 70’s Pear salad… there’s nothing wrong with it, but there probably better. By the way, I did not declare such a shameful honor (clearly I like pears). However, here is the link:
I love, love, love this recipe… True it has a little work to it, but not as much as it looks and nothing hard. The end result is not just a dish that looks impressive, the flavors just dance! I first introduced this recipe to you for regional grocer, ingles. They asked me to design a few dishes for their webpage. We had fun shooting the video and the crew seemed to have fun eating. It was good times for sure. I am however working on a different project… Melissa and the crew were marvelous & I wish them well. If you buy pears for this salad, be sure and grab a few extra to eat in it’s natural state… because like most fresh, whole, raw foods – they’re good for you!
I’m not sure about you but each winter I find myself: hibernating during vacation time & eating all the heavy, holiday goodies. It’s hard to say one could get tired of rich foods, but I do! This salad (and it’s so much more special than “a salad”) is worthy of fine dining but has inspirations from the ‘ol family dinners of your childhood. Many out there will remember the 70’s & 80’s “Pear Salad”.
Ah yes, no doubt your grandmother, aunt, mother or all three made this for family dinners. Sorted canned pear plopped out on top of iceberg lettuce, dolloped with mayonnaise and sprinkled with cheddar cheese before being crowned with one singular maraschino cherry. I know, it sounds like I’m mocking it… but I;m not. Truth be told, I’d eat one if served to me today. Thank goodness that someone along Betty Crocker’s way thought to come up with pears and greens and cheese combined. It has evolved but with flavors that won’t isolate your dear aunt… just perhaps have her ask ing for the recipe.
Tipsy Pear Salad
3 Pears (Look for the firmer varieties like Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett or Reds)
1 bottle of Sweet Riesling
1 cup of pomegranate juice (can’t find that, grab cranberry)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Sliced citrus (oranges or lemons)
1 stick of Cinnamon
Peel, half & core the pears.
Mix the rest of the ingredients for the poaching liquid. Add pears- bring to a boil and then back down to a simmer and let it go for around 30 minutes *You’re looking for a tender pear but still holding it’s shape
Pull pears out of poaching liquid and let cool down in the refrigerator.
Goat cheese with honey (sold pre-mixed or add honey to plain & mix)
1 tsp of Fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp if using dried
(this will be put in the pit of the pear.)
You’ll also need greens! I like to get a baby arugula mix for the base of the salad.
Dressing for greens:
1 tblsp local honey or pear preserve
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
6 tblsp Olive oil
Dash of Salt & Garlic
Mix & lightly dress greens right before serving *Don’t over dress.
Pro Tip: I learned this from all the years in the restaurant industry. Chill your salad plates for a few minutes in the frig or freezer and it will help keep your greens chilled.
Assemble: Dressed greens are plated first… Your Poached Pear-half sits right on top (think of your mom’s old pear salad on lettuce). Fill the core with the honey thyme goat cheese Top with Pecans or walnuts. You can reduce a bit of poaching liquid to a syrup to coat your pecans (if you like them candied). *if you do this, reduce to syrup stir pecans around and coat, salt – then put on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes on 400… you will smell them as a reminder they are ready. Pomegranates are also a good topping (and the red plays to the ol cherry on top of Mom’s pear salad in 1980)
Winter foods can be heavy and so this winter salad will freshen up any night. This not just a toss together, there’s a lotta’ love but no intimidating work in this. The sweet poaching is grounded by the earthy goat cheese and thyme & the tart dressing and spicy greens. The pecans add texture & salt. This is light enough so you don’t feel stuffed on a special night. There’s a bonus as well, that poaching liquid is now a wassel to enjoy in a mug by the fire with your sweety on a cold wnter night, so don’t let that go to waste.
I saw a shirt once that said, “You only live once, but if you dine well… once is all you need!” Haha I get that.