Deconstructed Pear Salad
It’s still four full days before Thanksgiving tables will be heaped full of food, and yet my trip to the grocery store just now was harrowing. The aisles were packed with manic masses desperately lunging for the last bag of prepared seasoned stuffing and can of pumpkin puree. All I wanted were some bagels for breakfast. Silly me. While I realize the core of our nation’s traditions for this holiday aren’t likely to undergo a serious shift any time soon, I wish that more folks focused on doing just want the pilgrims did: gathering locally grown food to the table and giving thanks for the harvest rather than gorging on supermarket spoils hard-won from the sucker next to them in line.
Farmers markets are still open this time of the year and have a cornucopia of items fit for any thankful feast. There are potatoes, yams, pumpkins, kales, mustards, collards, lettuces, spinach, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic, carrots, beets, honey, local cheeses, eggs, meats, breads, nuts, pears, apples, and cranberries galore! No need to brave the supermarket hordes.
Today’s recipe is for a very simple to make salad that is certainly worthy of a place on your holiday table. Elegant in its “deconstructed” nature with individual servings featuring a whole pear half in a beautiful dish, this salad features the lovely pure flavors of local seasonal offerings. I used pears from my family’s ancient tree, honey from my own beehive, lettuce just picked from the container on my deck, and hunks of an amazing goat cheese from Shellbark Hollow Farm in Chester County, PA.
There is an incredible (and addictive) deliciousness to be found in the contrast between the sweet honey and pear and the salty herbed pecans and cheeses. No need to set foot inside a grocery store to make this salad (presuming you have a decent spice rack in your kitchen already) and there are several other recipes in the blog index that do the same.
Squash Apple Cheddar Tart
Butternut Squash and Green Bean Curry
Roasted Beets over Gingered Millet
Saffron Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower
Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Soup
Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake with White Chocolate Ganache
Bittersweet & Nutty Greens
Mixed Fried Potatoes
Roasted Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
What locally grown ingredients will your Thanksgiving table feature this year?
Deconstructed Pear & Nut Salad
A Straight from the Farm Original1/2 C. pecan or walnut halves
1 t. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 t. fresh oregano, finely minced
1/4 t. fresh marjoram, finely minced
1/4 t. paprika
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
pinch of sea salt
2 very ripe pears
T. lemon juice
loose leaf lettuce mix
4 T. goat cheese
4 t. honey
freshly ground black pepper
Begin by making the nuts: Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine the nuts and butter and toss to coat. Add the oregano, marjoram, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), and sea salt. Toss again to combine and place on foil lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes until nuts are hot and fragrant and butter has been absorbed. Set aside until ready to use; can be stored in an airtight container for about a week.
Halve and core the pears. Peel each half and toss with lemon juice, being sure to coat all surfaces to prevent discoloration. Set aside. Sort your loose leaf lettuce and fill four serving dishes (glass makes for nice presentation) with a nice mix of whole leaves. Tuck a pear half into each dish. Crumble about a tablespoon of goat cheese over each dish/pear.
Sprinkle a few prepared nuts into each dish. Drizzle each salad with a teaspoon of honey. Give a grind or two of fresh black pepper over each and sprinkle with just a bit of coarse sea salt. Lastly, use a vegetable peeler to shave a few bits of Romano cheese on top of each dish and serve immediately.