I am in love with fresh pears. You have to be patient with them. I buy them hard and place them in a sealed brown bag for 4 days to ripen. You can tell that they are ripe when they smell like pears. If you want them to ripen faster, throw a banana in the bag with them. Bananas emit a gas that tells other fruit to ripen.
The first time I ever had a pear in a salad was at the Broome Street Bar and Grill in Soho. Broome Street Bar and Grill was around the corner from the dress shop where I worked when I was in college. It has good prices and food (rare in Soho) so I ate there pretty often. I still go there if I am in Soho looking for somewhere to get a decent, unpretentious meal. For lunch one day, I ordered a salad of butter lettuce with pear, blue cheese and roasted cashews. To my horror it arrived with alfalfa sprouts, which I ate far, far too many of during my hippy childhood. I am not a fussy eater, but I do not eat alfalfa sprouts. Anyway, once I picked the spouts out I enjoyed the salad immensely.
15 years later I still make this salad (or some version of it) quite often. I like to pack it for my lunch. I put celery in my version instead of alfalfa sprouts and I make a salad dressing out of raspberry vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper. In the winter I use arugula or baby spinach instead of butter lettuce. I also like to add chives.
More recently I have started making a salad with arugula, fresh pears, celery, chopped hazelnuts and slices of smoked duck breast that has been browned in a skillet. I love hazelnuts as much as I love pears and the two go together beautifully. One time, I added minced watermelon radishes (you can get them in the winter at green markets in NYC) and they were an excellent addition.
SALADS WITH PEARS
- butter lettuce, arugula or baby spinach
- a ripe pear for each person, cored and diced
- roasted cashews, pecans (candied pecans are good) or raw hazelnuts
- crumbled blue cheese or sliced smoked duck warmed in a skillet
- any or all of the following… sprouts, minced celery, minced radishes, chives
- A salad dressing made of raspberry vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper.