Salads with Pears

Pear salad with blue cheese and cashews, served with a potato gratin

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.


  • 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.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s so true, pears take an effing long time to ripen! I guess they would turn into pear soup if they were shipped when ripe…. Do you have a favourite variety?


  2. p.s. I’ve been thinking about making a salad like this, because I have Goya cheese which is really good but really really stinky. Like woah! Waaaay stinkier than my typical cheese used. Been trying to dream up what it would be perfect for…

  3. Stinky cheese and pears are friends. Stinky cheese also likes mango chutney and toasted slivered almonds. For salads, I real like a bartlett pear which is a pretty common variety (at least hear in New York). To my palate they have perfect pear flavour and juicy consistency (as long as you buy them in season and let them ripen in a bag for 4 days). For pies, Anjou pears are better because they are firmer. Anjous can take an seemingly endless amount of time to ripen. Both Bartletts and Anjous are are classic yellow/green, fat variety of pear. My feeling is that the more elegantly shaped pears with the papery red or brown skin are better suited for poaching in wine…..I also feel that those kinds of pears are hard to predict….and overpriced.

    You know what else I like to do with pears (in particular the ones that have gotten a little TOO ripe)? I like to slice them and sautee them in butter with a bit of frangelico and put them on pancakes.

    Yeah. I’m having a big pear moment right now.


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