Recipe: Pear Salad with Fennel and Ricotta Salata
It’s that time again, time for the longed for but tragic, at least for me, appearance of local pears at my Greenmarket, an indicator of the summer’s end. Today is also September 11, the anniversary of a tragedy that conjures up no longing. Be grateful for mixed feelings, I say to myself.
So another school year begins, and here I am furthering my education again by creating something nice with pears. And I did have some mixed feelings here. Since this is a period of transition, I wanted to keep a lightness to this early fall dish, so I included basil and tarragon, which are still growing well in my stoop pots. The fall notes are, well, the pear, of course, but then also the toasted pine nuts, the fennel, and the assertive cheese. If pears make you too sad, try substituting fresh figs, a fruit so fleeting you don’t really have time to ruminate over its significance. You just enjoy it. But then again, ruminating is, I think, good for me. It helps fuel culinary creativity.
Pear Salad with Fennel and Ricotta Salata
A large handful of frisée lettuce, torn into pieces
1 firm but fragrant pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced
½ red shallot, very thinly sliced
A little less than ¼ pound ricotta salata, crumbled
About 10 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
A few large sprigs of tarragon, leaves lightly chopped
1 teaspoon Spanish sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
A palmful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Place the frisée, the pear and fennel slices, and the shallot in a medium salad bowl. Scatter on the ricotta salata, the basil, and the tarragon.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, a little salt, a few big turns of black pepper, the nutmeg, and the olive oil, and pour this over the salad. Toss gently. Garnish with the pine nuts. Serve right away.