At some point, my sister and I discovered we both love the combination of white cheddar cheese with pear. They really go well together. Whenever we are fortunate enough to get together, we try and have pears and cheese. I think most of our visits are always highlighted by a food or quote of the trip. I wish we lived closer together and were able to spend more time together, but I do like that we at least have good memories of the times we do spend together. So in honor my sister, today I’m sharing our Pecan and Pear Salad, a great fall salad recipe which also pairs pears and white cheddar cheese. And yes, I know I just wrote “pairs pears”! It was actually unintentional, but I’m not deleting it because it feels like a rare pairing that should be celebrated…much like pears and cheese.
I recently discovered the boiled cider from King Arthur Flour Baking which I purchased sometime earlier this year and have been saving for a special purpose. Does anyone else do this? Splurge on a special ingredient and then save it? I think I did it with saffron as well. I think I really want to use it, but at the same time, I don’t want to waste it on something unworthy. It’s a little silly. But you get it, right? Anyway, while reorganizing the cupboard, I decided to open it and uses it as part of the dressing on the pear and pecan salad. And now that it is open, I guess I will need to use it in other things. If you don’t have boiled cider when making your salad dressing, just put some apple juice or cider in a small pan, cook on medium high heat until it boils, keep an eye on it and let it evaporate down and thicken.
Last year around this time, we were lucky enough to forage a ton of pecans from a tree in our in-law’s yard. We used them to make chocolate pecan pie and dark chocolate pecan bark! And we just ate a bunch of them. It worked out pretty well. The only challenge was getting them all cracked and harvested from the shell, but we actually paid our kids a small amount for every cup they cracked and picked out of the shell. Compared to the $8 for a small bag or whatever the going rate is at the store, totally worth it! Minimum wage and labor laws don’t apply when putting your own kids to work; they need to learn a good work ethic plus I think all those diapers changes, meals preps, and dishes washed should earn me a good rate! Oh right…the fall pear and pecan salad. For this salad, we toasted our pecans. Really all you need to do is put them in a small pan, turn the heat on to low, and cook for 5-10 minutes while keeping an eye on them and stirring them around. It is really worth it, the flavor of toasted pecans is amazing and a great addition to any salad or dish.
My stepmother also makes a good pear salad with candied walnuts, blue cheese and maybe a balsamic vinaigrette. I need to steal…I mean borrow, her recipe. 🙂 Maybe similar to this salad? We’ve been lucky to find good quality pears lately, so I’ll definitely have to test out some other pear salad recipes. And with luck we will soon harvest some more pecans soon and be able to try out more pecan recipes.
I used bartlett pears in this recipe since they are my favorite. It can be difficult to find ones that aren’t too ripe at the store. And they can easily bruise or be cut by the stems if shoved in a bag carelessly (don’t get me started). I tend to buy them before they ripen…not when they are dark green rocks, but when they are a little bit yellow and just starting to soften. If you need them to buy them ripe since you are using them right away, I would treat them very gently. I have also put them in a bag with ripe bananas or apples to speed up the ripening. This is a good guide to buying, ripening, and storing your pears.
Let’s get to the pecan and pear salad recipe!
- For the dressing:
- 2 T . boiled cider
- 2 T . apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 c . extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- For the salad:
- 4 cups mixed greens
- 1/4 c . toasted pecans
- 1/4 c . grated sharp white cheddar
- 1 ripe pear , cut into bite size pieces
- Assemble plates with mixed greens.
- Top with remaining ingredients.
- Drizzle with dressing.
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