Pickled Pear Salad

Looking for a salad revelation? Consider the pickled pear. With arugula, almonds and Stilton, they add zest to any dish, and go great in a grilled cheese.
Photo by Meg Baggott / Styling by Julia Lea

A pickled pear is a thing of beauty. Structurally, most fruits aren’t strong enough to handle an extended vinegar bath, but some pears are up to the challenge. Varieties like Bosc and Anjou are firm and just a bit woody. They look beautiful in a fruit bowl, but they’re often a disappointment to eat raw.

But pickled, they’re a revelation.

Strong hits of acidity are tempered by the natural fructose of pears in a way that isn’t cloying, unlike many other pickling recipes. Pears play well with fall spices, resulting in a treat that’s exciting and bright, while also comfortably warm.

Pickled pears can get you through the coldest days of winter. They can bring so many things to life, working as an alternative to root vegetables in casseroles and roasts, upgrading sandwiches beyond the standard slice of tomato, and elevating salads desperate for a taste of sunshine.

Pickled Pears
Photo by Meg Baggott / Styling by Julia Lea

In this salad, pickled pears bring brightness to peppery arugula. They’re further balanced by salty and savory marcona almonds and large crumbles of creamy, piquant Stilton cheese. A vinaigrette that incorporates the pickling brine with an additional splash of pear nectar ties everything together.

Pickled pears can fast become an integral part of your cold-weather kitchen. Layer them into a grilled cheese sandwich made with fontina and rustic bread drizzled with olive oil, or substitute a few slices in place of lemon for pan-seared seafood. Save the brine to add to marinades for poultry or duck, or to add a surprising dose of acidity to cocktails.

Pears Three Ways: Pickled Salad, Savory Side and Dessert

Allison Robicelli and her husband Matt developed this recipe and are the chefs behind the wildly popular Robicelli’s Bakery, as well as co-authors of Robicelli’s, A Love Story, with Cupcakes.

Pickled Pear Ingredients
  • 3 large firm cooking pears, like Bosc or Anjou
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 (¼-inch) piece fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
Salad Ingredients
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped roasted and salted marcona almonds
  • ⅓ pound Stilton cheese
Salad Dressing Ingredients
  • ¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • ⅓ cup pickling liquid
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup pear nectar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions

Peel, quarter and core pears. Place in 2-quart mason jar or container.

In medium saucepan, combine remaining pickling ingredients and bring to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over pears and seal tightly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Reserve ½ cup of pickling liquid, and pass through strainer. Set aside.

Place grapeseed oil, reserved picking liquid, pear nectar and Dijon mustard in jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well combined. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Dress arugula and red onion lightly with dressing. Crumble in cheese, and toss well. Divide salad onto 4 plates. Cut pears into ½ inch slices and fan out on top. Sprinkle almonds atop salads. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Pair it

Samuel Adams Rebel IPA; $10 12oz/6 pack, 91 points. This salad has a lot exciting and powerful flavors coming together, this well balanced IPA will help keep it all grounded. The bitter hop flavors wrangle in the creamy stilton and the sweet and vinegar notes of the pears; the brighter citrus notes of the beer team up with salad dressing to bring it all together.

Published on November 9, 2017


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