Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Savory Seared Pear Salad with Honey-Tarragon Dressing

Here's a great and hearty salad to help get you through this dumb and annoying winter. The bright acidity of the dressing, the buttery, warm pears, and the big old punch of bleu cheese  make this dish a potent antidote for the winter blues. The pears are totally transformed by this process; when seared in a hot pan, they become smoky, softened, and almost, dare we say… meaty. 

We love to bring this to potlucks. No one else will have anything else quite like it. We brought it to our friends' house for Thanksgiving this year, and the savory pears stood out among a sea of sweet potato casseroles and stuffings. If you're struggling with the conundrum of what to make your sweetie for Valentine's Day, simply cut these pears into a heart shape and wow him or her with a beautiful presentation. 

Savory Seared Pear Salad with Honey-Tarragon Dressing

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon minced shallot (rinsed under cold water to remove any astringency)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
3 medium red or green Anjou pears (just ripe, but still firm)
1 medium lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
2 cups mache or other greens
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup crumbled, aged bleu cheese

Assemble the dressing in a small mason jar by adding the vinegar, olive oil, honey, tarragon, shallot, and salt and pepper to taste. Place the lid on the jar and shake until the dressing emulsifies. Set aside.

Trim each pear as if you are cutting the core into a triangle shape. This method will give you 3 good-sized pear pieces from each fruit. As you work, place pears into a large work bowl and squeeze a little lemon juice onto each slice to prevent browning. With a sharp paring knife, cut a series of cross-hatched slits into the flesh of each pear, but make sure not to cut all the way through to the skin. This method allows the dressing and seasonings to disperse nicely throughout the fruit. 

Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and then quickly add the pears cut-side down. Allow them to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes or until they are nicely browned. Flip them and cook for both 2 minutes to warm them through. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spread the mache on a large platter and arrange the pears on top. Drizzle the whole thing with Honey-Tarragon Dressing. Top with walnuts and bleu cheese. Finish the dish with salt and pepper to taste. (Serves 4 to 6 as a first course.)

1 comment:

The Yogi Vegetarian said...

thanks for posting this- will try it this weekend! The idea of cooked pears is great for Winter :)