Salads can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. And sometimes, just a few simple ingredients that pair well together (no pun intended!), make for a beautiful and flavorful salad. Since pears are the stars of the season for this salad, I decided to make them stand out even more by simply shaving them whole.
Crisp, paper thin slices of sweet pear mingle with shards of salty parmesan, buttery pine nuts and spicy arugula and get drizzled with a tart and tangy lemon pepper vinaigrette.
For this salad, your favorite pear will do! I bought some red D’Anjou and Bosc pears and decided to go with the longer Bosc. I chose arugula for a light and airy green. I didn’t want the pears to get lost in a mass of lettuce. I think watercress or mache would work well here, too. And for the dressing, I used Meyer lemons. Regular lemons, oranges or a combination of citrus would be fantastic!
I can’t stress enough how delicious pears and parmesan are together. Your pears don’t need to get soft for this pretty fall salad. Shaving them nice and thin on a mandolin keeps them light and crispy. Just the perfect texture!
But if you want to use softer pears, you can certainly slice them for this salad. Feel free to shave your own parmesan, but honestly, I love the pre-shaved parm that you can usually find at the markets these days. Not a fan of pine nuts? Walnuts would be great!
This salad is pretty light. So it’s perfect for a starter on your holiday menu. But easy enough to whip up as a side to your weeknight dinners. I love that this salad is light and delicate and I really wouldn’t change a thing. But here are some ways to change up this salad and MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
- I liked the contrast of golden brown & green for this salad, so I used Bosc pears. But you can change up the color and flavor by using red or green pears or a combination. Maybe you prefer Comice, Barlett or those cute little Seckel pears instead.
- I also love the paper thin texture of the pears. But you can certainly change the texture of the pears by using chunks or grating the pears. You can really alter the flavor and texture by using roasted pears.
- I can’t tell you how perfectly parmesan and pears go together! But you can certainly shave other types of cheese as well. Gouda comes to mind. Or maybe you want to keep the cheeses soft and use goat cheese or blue cheese crumbles instead.
- This would be equally good with shaved apples and cheddar.
- Pine nuts kept this salad nice and light. So pumpkin or sunflower seed would be a good replacement.
- If you make a chunkier salad, and especially if you make this with apples, walnuts or pecans would be great!
- To keep this salad delicate, replace the arugula with mache or watercress. Use heartier greens like romaine or even a salad blend if you want to make it chunkier.
- How about a monochromatic salad? Red leaf butter lettuce, red pears, pecans and blue cheese?
- Simple lemon juice and olive oil make a nice dressing for this salad. Balsamic Vinaigrette would be terrific. Or how about some Parmesan Vinaigrette, instead?
- 2 pears (I used bosc) sliced vertically on a mandolin
- 4 cups of baby arugula
- 1 cup of shaved parmesan cheese
- ½ cup of toasted pine nuts.
- ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil.
- Place the pine nuts in a small non stick frying pan over high heat and toast, stirring until the pine nuts start to brown.
- Pour the pine nuts into a bowl to cool.
- Carefully shave the pear, whole, lengthwise on a mandolin. (The seeds will fall right off of the thin slices.)
- Place the lemon juice, zest, mustard, honey, pepper & oil in a small jar.
- Whisk or shake till completely combined.
- Dress the arugula with 1-2 Tablespoons of dressing.
- Add the pine nuts and parmesan shards and toss.
- Top with pears and more pine nuts and parmesan for garnish.
- Serve with extra dressing on the side.
All of my salads and dressings are just a starting place for your imagination. So feel free to add or swap ingredients and do what works for you!