february 26, 2016
Anyone who enjoys a good tabbouleh can attest to the importance of parsley in this hearty salad. Poor parsley is usually relegated to garnish status, limply lurking at the side of your dinner plate in restaurants and turning to grey flakes in your spice cabinet. So easy to grow in pots on your deck, or in the ground once summer sun kisses the earth, parsley (and I am referring to the meatier Italian flat parsley) makes a wonderful addition to your salads, dressings and pestos.
The celery-like taste of Italian parsley makes a great foil for salads with fruit, which can taste too much like dessert if left unchecked. This parsley pear salad has nicely contrasting flavors and textures, with a creamy, chunky blue cheese dressing dabbed over parsley leaves and wedges of Bosc pear, and dotted with pink peppercorns and chopped walnuts. Simple, and simply good. Something you can put together at the last minute and make your dinner guests think you have been slaving away in the kitchen just for them. Well, you have been in the kitchen, but playing with your food like the good foodie you know yourself to be.
One of the first posts written for this blog was for Honey Lemon Forelle Pears with Stilton. It remains one of my most cherished starter courses. Pears are not my favorite fruits for eating out of hand, but paired with cheese in a salad, their personality becomes more vibrant. Any blue will do for this recipe – Stilton, Maytag, a nice fragrant gorgonzola or the Bleu d’Auvergne used for today’s recipe-any blue with a creamy texture and not stiff and waxy when crumbled. I like untoasted walnuts here – you can toast the nuts, but be sure to rub off the skin which can taste harsh and bitter when baked. Pink peppercorns are not really members of the pepper family, but rather the dried berries of an ornamental shrub with a nice peppery bite. You can buy them in cute little jars or in the bulk herb section of some grocers; they keep well in a cool dark spot in the pantry and lend both color and a unique taste sensation to dishes.
Most of the recipes I share with you have some make- ahead components, but the dressing is made with extra virgin olive oil and will thicken considerably with refrigeration, leaving it too stiff to drizzle. You could cut the pears ahead and rub with lemon to prevent discoloration and wash the parsley ahead of time, but….this salad is so easy, so very easy, that last minute preparation is a cinch. Time to play with your food.
Parsley Pear Salad
makes four servings
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
pinch of fine sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
3 ounces blue-veined cheese (I like Bleu d’Auvergne), crumbled
one large bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, washed and spun dry
one large or two medium Bosc pears, cored and cut into thin wedges
¾ cup walnuts, chopped
4 teaspoons pink peppercorns
- In small mixing bowl, whisk vinegar and mustard with salt; gradually whisk in olive oil.
- Reserve a scant tablespoon of this dressing; to the remainder, add shallot and blue cheese and stir gently.
- In large mixing bowl, lightly toss parsley leaves with reserved dressing and place a thin layer of parsley on each of four large plates or platters.
- Divide pear wedges among the plates, then dab chunky dressing over all.
- Sprinkle walnuts over salads, then pink peppercorns.
- Serve immediately.