Salad with Pears, Red Onions, Mint and Toasted Almonds

DSCN4910

In preparation, I sliced a red onion on the mandoline at the thinnest possible setting and put them in a container to use in multiple dishes. I took a small handful to use in this salad – perhaps 2 TBSP total. I also sliced a pear at the medium setting, saving about 2/3rds for later and using 1/3rd in the salad. I grabbed a small handful of almonds, cut them in half lengthwise and toasted them on medium-high heat. I cleaned three stems of mint, stripping off the leaves and chopping them finely.

I cleaned and chopped 4 leaves of romaine lettuce and layered it on a platter. I then layered the red onion and the pears. I sprinkled the mint leaves and the toasted almonds on top. I drizzled about 1 TBSP of olive oil and about 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar on top. Some fresh ground pepper and salt and it was done.

The onion was important to balance the sweetness of the pear and the almonds gave it some necessary heartiness. I had originally planned to include chevre but the pear was so very ripe and sweet that I decided against it. It’s a new variety of pear for me called Taylors Gold and it is deliciously sweet and an idea fresh eating pear or for sauces and jams, but perhaps a bit tender for salads. Nonetheless, it didn’t break apart in the salad or turn to mush. As for flavor, it could not possibly be tastier.

Pear, Bresaloa and Chevre with Onion Vinaigrette and Garlic Spears

Salad with Pears, Dried Beef (Bresaola) and Garlic Spears

This was an easy layered salad that took just 5 minutes to make. This is a recipe for two salads as I had company.

I took one pear and sliced thin wedges and layered them in the bottom of a small bowl. On top of that I placed a layer of sliced air-dried beef (Bresaloa). This is from Roget’s Meats in Hubbard, Oregon, and a gift from a friend of mine, but any large city should have it on sale somewhere or you can order it online. It’s more common on the east coast than on the West Coast. On top of that I crumbled a bit of chevre. I cut the tops off two garlic spears. I then cut the spears in half lengthwise and chopped the long stem into 1/4 long pieces and sprinkled on top.

I had some onion vinaigrette that I made a few weeks ago and dressed the salad with that. I took the tops of the garlic shoots, cut them in half and removed the inside and used the outside for garnish.

The sweet pear, garlic and onion vinaigrette were great balances to the rich, heady taste of the dried beef and the chevre. It was an easy, delicious salad that took very little time to make and made a strong visual and flavor impression

Salad with Pears, Dried Beef (Bresaola) and Garlic Spears

Roasted Garlic Tops & Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pears, Parmesan and Dried Beef

Roasted Garlic Tops & Salad

This takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. Turn your oven to broil. Rinse the garlic tops and put in a roasting pan with a bit of olive oil sprinkled on them and some kosher salt. Pop them in the oven and get moving, you have 10 minutes maximum to make the salad.

Start heating a dry pan on a medium burner. Chop some almonds and toss them on to toast.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel 5 fresh, raw asparagus into thin strips. Cut one half a pear and arrange along the side. Top with a few pieces of parmesan (I peeled them off with the peeler) and a few pieces of dried beef. All freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice from half a lemon, some olive juice and sprinkle on the toasted almonds.

Now grab those fresh garlic shoots and serve on the side with the salad.

Fresh Garlic tops

Like any roasted vegetable, fresh garlic shoots are a revelation. They are infused with garlicky goodness and will love a bit of lemon and salt. There’s such a tiny window in the year for this amazing dish that you should run to your local market and get some before they’re gone. The salad is a mix of the freshness of the asparagus with the sweet pears and tart lemon juice, the heartiness of the almonds and parmesan and the rich flavorful umami of the dried beef. It’s amazingly delicious.

Chicken & Pear Salad

Chicken & Pear Salad

I chopped up 5 almonds and put them on a dry skillet to toast.

Into a large salad bowl, I added the following ingredients:

  • 4 leaves from a head of butter lettuce, washed and tore into medium size pieces.
  • Thinly sliced pieces of cucumber off one end of a cuke, about 1.5 inches of slices.
  • 2 TBSP of diced red pepper.
  • 1/4 of Anjou pear, cut one into pieces.
  • 2 oz of cold chicken, sliced.
  • 3 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 oz of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 TBSP or so of dried cranberries

I mixed  together and squeezed a bit of fresh lemon on top, added 1 tsp of olived oil, a bit of fresh ground pepper, salt and then tossed the toasted almonds on top.

It’s a fabulous blend of fresh lettuce and cucumber, tart lemon,  cranberries and basil with sweet pear and red pepper, sharp feta, hearty chicken and of course, the high notes of toasted almonds to bring it all home.