Deconstructed Pear Salad

November 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm 11 comments

Pears and a 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. 

Deconstructed Pear and Walnut Salad

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. 

Shellbark Hollow Farm Cheese

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. 

Pear Salad Diptych

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
Carrot Cake
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? 

Pear and Salad Up Close

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
sea salt
Romano cheese

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.

(serves 4)


Entry filed under: Recipes, Salads. Tags: , , , , , .

Fall Fruit Compote PawPaw Ice Cream

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. RobbingPeter  |  November 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Those are the funniest looking walnuts I have ever seen.

    Even so, it looks delicious! I wish I had an old pear tree.

    • 2. Jennie  |  November 22, 2009 at 9:32 pm

      Oh dear, now you see this is what happens when I’m multitasking too much and sleeping too little. I created the recipe with walnuts in mind but then only had pecans on hand when I did the photos. Thanks for catching my blunder, RP. 🙂 Mix-ups aside, I’ve made both herbed/spiced walnuts and pecans and both work beautifully so find whichever you can at the farmers market and go with that. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 3. Anna  |  November 22, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    This looks great — wish I still had some local pears left. I have yet to narrow down which delicious dishes I will make for Thanksgiving, but I plan to include many of the local veggies I got at the (last) farmer’s market this week.

  • 4. tigress  |  November 22, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    this salad looks simple and delicious. and the photos are absolutely gorgeous!

    i just came home from a stocked to the brim with local offerings thanksgiving farmers market here in nyc. i totally agree with you, if the whole country could take a turn back to the real tradition of thanksgiving we would be headed in the right direction.

  • 5. BİR DUT MASALI- nUnU  |  November 23, 2009 at 3:35 am

    oooo.. very nice but interesting 🙂
    good week

  • 6. Donna Earnshaw  |  November 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I totally agree with you about supermarket shopping for this meal. We will be doing the vast majority of our Thanksgiving meal from PennyPack farms. I have lots of sweet potatoes and sunchokes from my last share and we will pick up our free range heritage turkeys on Tuesday from the CSA as well. Locally grown broccoli and home made applesauce, ( will share the table with home made bread and rolls. I am hoping to find some brussel sprouts. The CSA did not have a good crop this year. Even without them I think we’ll have plenty.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

    • 7. Jennie  |  November 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm

      Wonderful, Donna! I love to hear all about your local choices. Thanks for sharing the applesauce recipe link. 🙂

  • 8. Christine  |  November 24, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Where are you finding local cranberries this year? Since Willow Creek closed their market, I am left without a source 😦

    p.s. I am a big fan of Shellbark chevre!

    • 9. Jennie  |  November 24, 2009 at 11:58 am

      Hey Chris! I get my cranberries from Headhouse Market in the city – there’s a lady there that brings them over from the NJ bogs. The market’s open tomorrow actually for pre-Thanksgiving buying but I know it’s a hike for you to get down there.

      Yes, isn’t Shellbark awesome cheese? Yum! 🙂

      • 10. Christine  |  November 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

        I can’t get to Headhouse today (but if you’re going, snag some for me — I’ll trade you an Amish friendship bread starter…), but I’ll keep looking; I like to put a couple quarts in the freezer this time of year. Luckily I still have a cup or two left from last winter — just not enough to try your compote and the apple-cranberry jam over at Food in Jars.

  • 11. Food-Fitness-FreshAir  |  November 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    My family and I are big on eating locally. Our Thanksgiving will almost surely feature sweet potatoes, red potatoes, and some kind of green (swiss chard/kale/collards) from our garden. We also use our own onions and garlic. Fresh, local food is so superior to anything bought in the store…I couldn’t even imagine a store bough pie, let alone boxed mashed potatoes.


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