ROASTED PEAR SALAD WITH MIXED BITTER LETTUCES, BLUE CHEESE, POMEGRANATE, AND HAZELNUT VINAIGRETTE

This is my mother’s favorite salad. She asks for it at every holiday meal. I would be a bad son if I didn’t include it in this book, since she’s been begging for the recipe for years and I’ve never given it to her. This one’s for you, Ma.

SERVES 4


2 slightly underripe Bosc pears, halved, cored, and cut into ¼-inch slices
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 Belgian endives, bottoms trimmed and separated into individual leaves
2 heads frisée, pale inner yellow leaves only, pulled apart by hand, rinsed and spun dry
3 cups (about 8 ounces) baby arugula leaves, rinsed and spun dry
3 to 4 tablespoons Hazelnut Vinaigrette (here)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Gorgonzola, Stilton, or Cabrales cheese, crumbled
About ½ cup pomegranate seeds (from 1 medium pomegranate)
1.  Toss the pear slices with the sugar in a medium bowl until evenly coated. Heat the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the pear slices in a single layer and cook, shaking the pan gently, until browned on the first side, about 1 minute. Carefully flip the slices with a thin, flexible offset spatula and continue cooking until the second side is browned, about 1 minute longer. Slide the pears onto a large plate and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2.  Combine the endive, frisée, arugula, and pears in a large bowl, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss with clean hands until evenly coated with vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette, salt, and/or pepper as necessary. Add the cheese and pomegranate seeds and toss briefly. Serve immediately.
TWO ROASTED BEET SALADS
Beets get their fair share of criticism from children and adults alike, and it’s easy to understand why if you, like me, were exposed to the canned variety as a kid. Those are not easy to like. A freshly roasted beet, on the other hand, is something quite different. Sweet as candy, rich and earthy, with a great sorta-soft-sorta-crisp texture, they’re one of my favorite vegetables. I make one or another form of beet salad a few times a year, and these two are among my wife’s favorites. Just like her, they are pretty, colorful, and best at room temperature.
You can boil beets, but the process will rob them of flavor (notice how pink that water gets?—that’s flavor going right down the drain). I’ve found that the best way to cook them is in the oven, in an airtight foil pouch. They steam as they cook, heating up the air in the pouch, which allows them to cook faster, with minimal moisture loss. Because you’re using a dry cooking method, they barely lose any juices or flavor. And the foil pouch is a great way to add aromatics: a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary, some black pepper and olive oil, and perhaps some citrus zest. After roasting, they are extremely easy to peel—their skins slip right off under cool running water. To prevent staining your wooden cutting board, line it with a sheet of plastic wrap before working with beets.

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