Asian Pear Salad with Tamari Pecans and Maytag Blue Cheese

Ever since American chefs discovered the amazing food marriage of tree fruits and blue cheese, they have served the two in many forms. Pears are classic, but nearly all tree fruits work well. Go through the seasons: cherries, peaches, plums, apples, and then pears. As much as I like them all, pears remain my favorite. For this salad, I like crisp, moist Asian pears (also called Japanese pears), which can be sliced ahead of time because they don't brown easily. They are also fairly easy to find. null The blue cheese clearly is the dominant ingredient. You don't usually think of cheese with Asian flavors, but in this preparation, it's dynamite. Everything works here: The tamari takes the pecans to a new taste level, and the bitter greens and the reduced pear juice dressing provide just the right spark for this rich, sweet and salty salad.

Recipe courtesy Michel Nischan, Taste Pure and Simple: Irresistible Recipes for Good Food and Good Health, Chronicle Book 2003
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 45 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive Prep: 30 min
Cook: 55 min
YIELD: 4 servings
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried currants or chopped raisins
  • 1/4 cup crumbled chilled blue cheese (recommended: Maytag)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe Asian pear, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
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Directions

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and syrup. Whisk in the oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the greens, pecans and currants. Sprinkle with the cheese and season lightly with salt and pepper. Whisk the dressing again and drizzle it over the salad.

Toss the salad gently and briefly; you do not want the cheese to crumble any further and clump together.

Divide the salad among 4 chilled salad plates. Fan the pear slices over each serving.

Pear Syrup:
3 cups pear juice
Put the pear juice in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and skim the thick foam that rises to the surface.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently, skimming occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the juice reduces to the consistency of maple syrup.

Let cool to room temperature. Use now or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Yield: 1/3 cup

Tamari Pecans:
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
2 teaspoons molasses
Cayenne pepper and salt
1 cup pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow bowl, stir the tamari and molasses together to blend. Season with cayenne and salt, to taste.

Add the pecans and toss until they are coated. Transfer the pecans to a clean kitchen towel and let drain briefly.

Spread the pecans on a wire rack set on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, or until fairly dry and toasted.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the rack. Chop the pecans into 1/4-inch pieces.

Yield: 1 cup

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