Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Watercress, Parmesan, and Pecans

I'm usually not a fan of fruit with a green salad but this salad was very tasty. Even Zachary ate it although his brothers wouldn't touch it.

From December 2007 Cook's Illustrated:

3 ripe but firm pears (about 1 1/2 pounds), quartered and cored
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil plus an additional 2 teaspoons
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot , minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 medium head green leaf lettuce , washed, dried, and torn into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
2 small bunches watercress , washed, dried, and stemmed (about 4 cups)
4 ounces Parmesan cheese , shaved into thin slices with a vegetable peeler
3/4 cup pecans , toasted and chopped

1. Toss pears, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add pears cut-side down in single layer and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Using small spatula or fork, tip each pear onto second cut side; continue to cook until second side is light brown, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Turn off heat, leave skillet on burner, and add 2 tablespoons vinegar; gently stir until vinegar becomes glazy and coats pears, about 30 seconds. Transfer pears to large plate and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cut each pear quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and shallot together in large bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lettuce, watercress, and cooled pears to bowl; toss and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide salad among individual plates; top each with portions of cheese and nuts. Serve immediately.

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