I’ve been so busy enjoying all the other fruits of fall, I’d almost forgotten about the pears. I have two big paper sacks of pears from my backyard tree sitting in the bottom of my refrigerator, ready to be taken out and ripened a few at a time. Unlike most fruits, they are best picked when green and ripened off the tree, because they ripen from the inside out, and the centers can rot before the outside is ripe. So now is the perfect time to make a succulent fall salad with pears. This recipe uses a fantastic technique from Cooks’ Illustrated for caramelizing the pears, so it’s fine to start with fairly firm pears. If your pears are particularly juicy, turn up the heat and don’t cook them too long.
It’s almost pecan season, and in case you didn’t know, Doña Ana county is one of the top pecan-producing counties in the nation. The New Mexico Pecan Festival happened a couple of weeks ago in Las Cruces, and they’re expecting an especially large crop this year. This year’s harvest won’t actually start until after the first frost in the southern part of the state, which is forecast for next week.
If you’ve never eaten arugula, this is a great way to try it – the sweetness of the pears and pecans complement the arugula’s sharp flavor nicely. It tastes like lettuce (slightly bitter as all salad greens are) but spicy-hot and slightly sweet, kind of like wasabi. Arugula is also easy to grow—it self-seeds and grows like a weed in my garden with zero watering, even in the freezing winter temperatures of New Mexico. Throw a few seeds out in your yard and see what happens…
One large pear, quartered
1 t. olive oil
½ t. sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of fresh ground pepper
2 t. balsamic vinegar
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. minced chives
1 T. olive or grapeseed oil
Pinch of salt
Two large handfuls of arugula leaves
Two handfuls of pecans, chopped
A few thin slices of Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Toss the pear quarters with sugar, salt and pepper. Lay each quarter on one cut side in the skillet. Cook until lightly browned, about 2-4 minutes, then tip each piece onto its other cut side to brown. Turn off the heat and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the pears, stirring gently until it forms a syrupy coating on the pears. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool. Whisk balsamic vinegar with chives, oil and salt to make the dressing. Slice the pear quarters crosswise, arrange them with the pecans and parmesan on a bed of arugula, and drizzle with dressing.
Blogger Amy White is totally obsessed with vegetables and fruits. Amy can be found every Friday right here, and on her blog, www.veggieobsession.blogspot.com.