Pear Waldorf Salad

During those weeks between the holidays at this time of year, a crunchy, fresh salad with a wintery undertone is just what we crave. The Waldorf Salad may be traditionally made with apples, but we love it with the soft, seductive sweetness of ripe pears. Instead of gloppy mayonnaise, we toss crisp celery and fennel, toasted walnuts, grapes, and those succulent pears with Greek yogurt for a tangy take. Fresh herbs and sunflower seeds add texture and a modern feel. Serve the salad spooned into butter lettuce or radicchio leaves, or scoop it up with warm pita bread for a light and simple lunch.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 ripe USA Red Anjou Pears, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, reserving fronds, cored, and sliced

3 ribs celery with leaves, stalks sliced and leaves coarsely chopped

1 cup halved red grapes

3/4 cup walnut halves and pieces, toasted

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the pears, fennel, celery slices and leaves, grapes, walnuts, and parsley leaves. Add the yogurt, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and the sunflower seeds, and serve.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Find Your Farmer

fruits and veggies

Summer is the perfect time to find fresh fruits and vegetables, including some you may have never tried! Farmers’ Markets are in full swing, and the abundance of summer produce may surprise you. Along with fruits and vegetables, many markets also offer local meats, eggs, cream and butter, honey, flowers, spices and herbs – along with products distinctive to your area! What’s nice about going to a local market is these ingredients are in season and at their ripest, meaning most delicious and bursting with nutrients; plus, you can find fresh ideas to inspire your staples. For instance, I always have lettuce on hand – romaine, arugula, maché – and with all the fresh produce available, I’m able to come up with fresh, new ideas! This weekend, I made a salad with fresh arugula, prosciutto, lemon, sliced grapes and pears, shaved parmesan, and a splash of olive oil…  So light and refreshing! Tonight’s dinner includes fresh squash on the grill drizzled with locally harvested honey and topped with grilled pear and melon slices – delicious!

Interested in seeing what your local farmer has? Check out these links for ideas!

http://www.localharvest.org/

http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/

Boston and Bresaola Salad

Last week, I shared a great article on pears by food writer Mark Bittman. He’s famous for his fresh, simple approach to whole foods, and this roundup of ten (!) pear salad recipes are just that: novel in their fresh interpretations and reassuringly simple. Best of all, in my handicapped opinion, they’re mostly free of strong cheeses. While that ingredient seals the deal for most foodies, my tastebuds disagree vehemently, so I’m always looking for a different savory spin on pear salads.

I love these seasonal recipes so much I’ve decided to re-create them in my own kitchen. Recipe inspiration for you, delicious lunch for me! First up: Boston and Bresaola.

I admit I had to look up bresaola. It’s a salted, air-cured beef. I couldn’t find any at my local grocer, so I used prosciutto, per Bittman’s suggestion. Combined with buttery quarters of avocado, sweet slices of Bosc pear, and a simple vinaigrette (made with apple cider vinegar, in my case), the prosciutto lent the perfect savory touch to this simple salad.

The Time is Ripe for Pears: Portland

Last week, we brought The Time is Ripe for Pears tour to our hometown, Portland! On Thursday, we were treated to an amazing luncheon at Castagna, where the food looked more like art. Take the starter, for example. We were presented with this of-the-earth ceramic bowl (which I secretly wanted to smuggle home in my purse – after licking it clean, of course).

The bowl contained drops of tangy yogurt, cubed Comice pear, and wisps of fennel. I was excited with this unusual starter, but it wasn’t done yet! Our server placed a box in the center of our table that contained little packets. Pear packets. No joke – they were made of dehydrated pear and filled with granola, and we were told to crumble them over our  yogurt. Gladly!

The meal continued on in a similarly jaw-dropping fashion. One of my favorite courses was this salad, for which you’ll see the recipe here very soon! I would encase this in glass and hang it on the wall of my cube.

Here’s a video of wizard chef Justin Woodward explaining how pears fit into his molecular, seasonal approach to delighting his customers:

The next day, we headed out to our local New Seasons Market, which we love for its friendly staff and amazing range and quality of goods, including, of course, pears. Right now, in the thick of pear season, they had eight varieties for sale!

Lunchtime shoppers loved the pears (and the impromptu ripening education):

We’re in Seattle this week for our last tour stop. If you’re near, join us this Friday between 4 and 6 p.m. at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market – we’ll be sampling three sweet and juicy varieties of USA Pears with expert-selected cheese pairings!

And don’t forget to enter our sweepstakes now! There’s just one week left in the sweeps, and YOU could win fresh pears or a trip for two to enjoy the culinary delights of one of these eight great cities! Click here to join!