Second Course: Pear and Pecan Salad
For the next few days, I’m going over a four course meal I made last weekend for an early Valentine’s Day dinner. Any of the courses would be fantastic by themselves. If you missed the Appetizer yesterday, you can check it out here.
If you read, or even browsed, the entire post yesterday on artichoke fritters you may have said, “Man. Those look like a lot of work.” I’m not going to lie to you that they are kind of a lot of work. Especially when you have three other courses to prep!
When planning a menu like this, it is important to balance your dishes not only for flavor, but for prep time as well. If you are making an appetizer that is work intensive, plan a second course that is fairly simple so you can catch up and not lose your mind.
It is key to remember that this should be fun for both of you. Not just the person you are cooking for. That’s why for the second course I made a really simple, but very tasty Pear and Pecan Salad.
This was a really good winter salad. Not too heavy and the pears really lightened up the dish. I will be making this again for sure. The arugula in this salad is tossed in a quick and easy shallot dressing. Both the dressing and salad were from Tyler’s book, Stirring the Pot.
1) For the dressing, mince shallot very finely and whisk together with other dressing ingredients. Feel free to add a bit more lemon juice to thin the dressing a bit if you want.
2) Toss greens with a few tablespoons of arugula. Try not to add too much dressing to the greens. They should be lightly coated.
3) Toast pecans in a 400 degree F. oven for a few minutes until fragrant or in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until toasted.
4) Divide greens between bowls and top with sliced pears, pecans, and goat cheese. serve extra dressing on the side.
One important step for this dressing is making sure your shallot is chopped as fine as you can get it. Also the more uniform the better. Peel off the skin from the shallot and slice it horizontally and vertically a few times. Leave one edge of the shallot whole. This will keep your sections together.
Then you just dice it up really fine.
Then mix this in with all of your other dressing ingredients and you are all set. This dressing is better the longer you let it sit. You can make it a day or two in advance with no worries.
Then get out your greens. I used arugula, but the original recipe called for frisée. As a rule I don’t like using ingredients that have accent marks in the names because it makes it harder to write about them.
I also couldn’t find any at the market.
Toss your greens in a bit of the dressing. Be careful not to add too much dressing. Start with a small amount. Add your pecans on top. Ideally, you would toast them for a few minutes in a 400 degree oven! If you are just making two small plates you will have some dressing left over.
Then add your sliced pear and a few dollops of goat cheese.
What’s nice about this is that you can make the dressing the day before and the salad a few hours before and then you have zero work to do on this course when it is time for it.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the Third Course!
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