Even though apples are in peak season in the fall, and are an emblem of back-to-school, pears are what really scream fall to me. Maybe that’s because apples are more readily available year-round, thanks to storage technology and imports from the southern hemisphere.
When I think “pear” my next thought tends to be “walnuts.” They are a natural pairing (pear-ing?), and add some blue cheese and you have a trifecta of deliciousness. I bought two beautiful Bosc pears this weekend at PCC Natural Markets, and enjoyed them in my favorite way: Pear-Walnut Salad.
I was flying solo this weekend, and had a long to-do list, so I was happy to include two variations of this salad in my meal plan. For dinner Saturday, I topped a bed of greens and baby arugula (both from Organic Girl) with chunks of leftover baked chicken. For Sunday lunch, I sliced up a roasted beet and added more walnuts (for protein). Beets also say fall to me, even though I eat them year-round.
My go-to salad dressing is a homemade vinaigrette. When I make pear-walnut salads, I reach for my walnut oil (stored in the fridge) instead of my olive oil, and use a slightly sweet vinegar, usually a white balsamic (regular balsamic feels too heavy) or apple cider vinegar. (At one point, I had some samples of Sparrow Lane walnut champagne and D’Anjou pear vinegar from Marx Pantry in my possession, and I can’t even say how much they elevated my salads! Salad nirvana!)
- Salad greens (I prefer tender greens for this salad)
- Walnut oil
- A fruity or slightly sweet vinegar (such as white balsamic or apple cider)
- Cooked chicken, cubed (about 3 ounces) or 1 roasted medium-sized beet, cubed
- 1 pear, quartered, seeds and core removed, and sliced or cubed.
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a jar or small bowl, combine walnut oil and vinegar, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. The classic ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but a 2:1 ratio also works well, especially since you are using a less acidic-tasting vinegar. Shake (jar) or whisk (bowl) to combine.
- Add greens to a salad/mixing bowl and drizzle with the desired amount of dressing; toss to coat (extra dressing will keep in the fridge).
- Arrange greens on the plate or bowl you will be eating from. Arrange the other ingredients on top so they are pleasing to your eye, then add a few more grinds of pepper and a sprinkle of salt (to taste). Enjoy!
Notes: A quick way to toast a small amount of walnuts is to put them in a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave them for 1 minute. If you’ve never roasted beets before, this Kitchn post will get you on your way. I leave the skin on my pear, because many of the beneficial phytonutrients are in the skin or right underneath it (plus, I think it adds nice color and texture to the salad).