Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Pears and Creamy Cheddar Dressing

Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Pears and Creamy Cheddar Dressing
Here is a a beautiful and fresh take on a classic salad combination: fruit, nuts, and cheese. Toasted hazelnuts are the perfect match for sweet, ripe pears, and finely grated vintage cheddar cheese adds plenty of interest to the classic buttermilk dressing. Serve this salad as a unique accompaniment to any winter holiday meal. The crisp, fresh winter vegetables will make a perfect partner to a Thanksgiving turkey or any other roasted meat and the pears are a healthy and colorful addition.

Ingredients
Salad
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 small head radicchio, chopped
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
2 USA Pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett, cored and sliced
⅓ cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
Dressing
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup finely grated vintage sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
½ teaspoon salt
Several turns of freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Place the chopped lettuce and radicchio into a large bowl of ice water to crisp, and set aside for 15 minutes. The dressing can be prepared in the meantime (see below). After 15 minutes, drain the lettuce and radicchio and spin until dry. Add the sliced celery and pears, and gently toss. Divide the salad among six plates and spoon the dressing over the top. Sprinkle each serving with the chopped hazelnuts.
cheddar dressing

For the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a pint jar and shake vigorously to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: 6 servings

A Seasonal Salad from Hilary Finch Hutler

I’m pleased to introduce a brand-new contributing blogger here at The Pear Dish, personal chef and recipe writer Hilary Finch Hutler. Read on for a quick Q-and-A with Hilary and her first recipe, a gorgeous end-of-summer salad!

Hilary oysterWelcome, Hilary! Tell us about yourself.
I am a personal chef and recipe writer here in Portland, Oregon and I blog at tummyrumblr.com. I grew up in Eugene and worked in many restaurants as well as on a produce farm. Naturally, I fell in love with all of the produce that Oregon has to offer.

 

How did Tummyrumblr start?
After several years of working as a personal chef, I stopped relying on recipes and started cooking based more on intuition and seasonality. I realized that I had been creating recipes for years but that I hadn’t been writing anything down. Tummyrumblr is a place to keep and share my favorite recipes. I have amassed almost 200 recipes there over the last 5 years.

How have you grown your passion for food and recipe development? Who do you cook/plan for besides yourself?
I think Western Oregon is the perfect place to be a chef. We get to experience all of the seasons, but we lack a deep, cold winter. This means we have a very long growing season, and with the exception of a few months there is new produce sprouting up constantly. There is always a new ingredient to cook with, and a new recipe to be tried, so it’s easy to stay interested in cooking.

At work, I cook for a family of five with wildly diverse food preferences. They keep me on my toes! At home I keep it simple. Locally raised meats, Pacific fish and shellfish, eggs, vegetables and fruits.

What’s the best dish you’ve ever eaten?
I was a vegetarian for about seven years. When I entered culinary school a chef said to me, “You really ought to think about tasting some of the meat we will make, because if you don’t, you will be missing out on a big piece of what you can learn here.” A few weeks later, I tried a bite of grilled lamb chops. I had never eaten lamb that I knew of, and I never looked back. Grilled lamb is still one of my favorite things.

What’s your favorite thing about pears? Favorite pear variety?
Pears have such incredible variety in color, shape, and flavor. My goal as a recipe writer for USA Pears is to create recipes that will highlight the individual characteristics of the different pears, and for me that is a really exciting challenge! My current favorite pear is Starkrimson. They are all over the farmer’s markets and grocery stores right now and they are stunningly beautiful!

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IMG_0108Red Bartlett, Sweet Corn, and Strawberry Salad

This is the perfect salad to honor the arrival of the early-ripening Red Bartlett pear. This sweet and juicy pear makes a delightful and colorful side dish when combined with summer corn, tart strawberries, and fresh basil. Serve this salad with any type of grilled meat or fish – I chose a simple fillet of salmon, but barbecued chicken or pork chops would also make a wonderful pairing. Be sure to grab the ingredients for this beautiful salad before they’re gone!

Ingredients
4 Red Bartlett USA Pears, medium dice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 ears sweet corn
1 pint strawberries, medium dice
20 fresh basil leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Place diced pears into a large bowl and toss gently with the lime juice. Place a medium pot of water on the stove to boil. In the meantime, shuck the corn and cut the kernels off of each cob with a sharp knife. Once the water is boiling, slide all of the corn into the pot and cook for one minute. Transfer the corn in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and set aside to drain. Stack the basil leaves into two piles of ten each. Roll each pile up from the base like a cigar and slice into ⅛-inch strips. Unfurl into a pile of perfectly sliced basil. Add the corn, diced berries, sliced basil, and salt to the bowl with the pears and toss together gently. Serve the salad immediately.

prep time: 15 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings