In a season full of braises, and baked apples, and squash, it’s nice to take a break and eat something fresh and green. Asian pears, grown right here in MA, have been showing up in the markets lately. Tasty snack sure, I’ve been experimenting with more savory uses for the pears this season: grated into a spicy slaw with carrots, scallions, and chili paste, or shaved into a green salad with olives and parmesan. Crisp like an apple and sweet-flowery like all pear, Asian pears make great company for anything slightly salty or even spicy.
The salad is inspired by a simple salad from the A16 Cookbook. Written by folks at A16 in San Francisco, the book (and the restaurant) focus on the flavors of Sothern Italy adapted for the produce of California. The A16 salad featured tangerines and almonds rather than the pears and pecans. A perfect winter citrus rendition, their salad, like this one, is simply dressed with good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. This is more a canvas than a recipe formula. The ingredients may come and go with the seasons, but the essence stays the same: something sweet, something salty, some greens, and a light dressing. Food that tastes like what it is. Bright, beautiful, and fresh.
Serves 6-8 as a starter or less as a light lunch/dinner with bread. I think this salad would make a beautiful and simple addition to any holiday meal – some bright flavors and green leaves to balance out your table.
For the Salad
4 large handfuls leafy greens such as mache or arugula
½ cup green olives, pitted and halved
½ cup pecans, toasted
1 large Asian pear, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp or more to taste fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Parmesan for grating
Toss together the greens, olives, pecans, and pear slices. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and acidity and adjust as needed. Top with coarsely grated parmesan and serve at once.