Sunday, July 11, 2010

Salad Days Part Deux

I believe I mentioned a while back that Epicurious has an iPhone app. I have insomnia and there are nights when I can't sleep that I will page through their application looking for recipes to try.

I love fruit and cheese together. Give me a really tart apple like a granny smith, and a really sharp non-moldy cheese, and I am one happy camper. I grew up in New England, where it is not out of the question to have a big chunk of cheddar with your apple pie.

My sweetie wasn't brought up with this food combination. He does, however, enjoy wine and cheese, and when he lived in Chicago, we went to a lovely place called The Tasting Room a couple of times. Their cheese platters came with nuts and fruit as well as crackers and when I read this recipe, I said, "A-ha! Pears with manchego! He's eaten that at the tasting room, I bet he'll eat it in the salad."

Not only did he eat it, bless his heart, he wrangled the pears when we expanded the recipe to feed twenty. Here goes:

1/3 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas; not toasted) I switched out the pumpkin seeds for sliced almonds. I definitely wanted the texture, but I don't like pumpkin seeds very much. I was very pleased with the flavor.
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar I usually get this at Whole Paycheck or Trader Joe's or through Amazon, who has a nice assortment
1 teaspoon mild honey
1 teaspoon grainy mustard There's lots of good grainy mustards out there. Your average grocery store should have some Inglehoffer
4 cups packed spicy salad greens, such as radish greens, watercress, and/or arugula, tough stems discarded
4 cups packed frisée (French curly endive), torn into bite-size pieces The type of greens is especially important in this mix, the cheese is pretty strong, but you don't want it overpowered
1 (1/2-pound) piece Manchego cheese, rind removed and cheese shaved into 32 thin slices (preferably with a cheese plane) if you're not making individual plates, then go ahead and grate it.
8 small red or yellow Bartlett pears (preferably with stems)

Cook seeds in 1 tablespoon oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until puffed and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels and reserve oil. Season seeds with salt and pepper.

I skipped this part, since I skipped the pumpkin seeds.

Whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and reserved oil from skillet in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Divide greens and cheese among salad plates. Cut off 2 opposite sides of each pear (reserve for another use), leaving a 1/2-inch-thick lengthwise center slice with stem and core. Arrange a pear slice on each plate and drizzle dressing over salads. Sprinkle with seeds.

If muliplying this recipe for more people, then I recommend simply cubing the pears and grating the cheese. This combination is delicous, unique and will get you a second glance if you bring it to a group gathering.

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