Winter pear salad with sweet beets, balanced with funky blue cheese and crisp celery.
Winter salad again. It is SO different than our November menu's winter salad that I don't feel nervous we are overdoing it with seasonal salads. Salad is a pretty loose term anyway. Today's plate is sweet but funky in the best way possible. We're taking advantage of seasonal pears (these are forelles) and beets and pairing them with the dramatically different flavors of blue cheese and celery. What ends up happening is a nice balanced dish that makes you crave bite after bite as you adjust to sweet and funky and soft and crunchy.
Opposites attract (like honey and cat hair which let's be real, made today with honey all over the place a thrilling shoot).
Let's also talk honeycomb for a second. Visually, you really can't do better. The layer and structure is fascinating, but it's the way light flows through the comb that gets me. We picked this up at the Waterford Fair in October from a local apiary. Since there's no way we could finish the whole container for recipes in a timely fashion, we dropped off some sections to friends who would also appreciate this hard to find item.
If you're unfamiliar with honeycomb you can eat the entire thing. I've spent so much time reading articles and discussion boards on this topic and it seems split into two camps. Some people eat the comb, some people eat it and chew until the honey flavor is gone and then spit out the waxy-ish ball that remains. We personally did method 2 which seems like a pain in the ass until you remember the point of eating isn't to mow through whatever is in front of you. A process like this is not a food horking hurdle. It's an experience and it's kind of fun. Like shelling pistachios. The comb is so beautiful and adds a very special element to this dish. Sure, you could just add regular honey to the dressing, but who doesn't want an excuse to try honeycomb? Save the rest for your next fancy ass cheese platter and impress your friends.
I also love that this salad is so nutritionally diverse. It's not just a big bowl of greens. Besides the typical fiber bounty in our recipes (we can't help it...it just happens), the beets are a nice earthy source of potassium and magnesium. Pears are...well another source of fiber. One of the great ones actually. One medium pair is 24% of your daily fiber needs. They've also got vitamin C.
When it comes to cheese, big flavor means you can use less with bigger impact. Blue cheese has FUNK. One time in college I bought 5 year aged Danish blue cheese and that is a mistake I will never make again. My fridge reeked for weeks and it scared me off the blue stuff for a few years. But buy a mild version and mix it with something delicious and you'll love it.
Pear Honeycomb Winter Salad
/// Ingredients ///
- 3 small precooked, peeled beets (cook your own if you want!)
- 1 Tablespoon mild blue cheese, flaked from cheese wedge
- 1 medium forelle pear, sliced
- 4-6, 3/4 inch cubes of honeycomb
- 1/4 cup sliced celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
- 3 leaves basil, chiffonaded
- 3 T champagne vinegar
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
/// Directions /// To make dressing, add garlic, dijon, vinegar and salt and pepper to a small bowl. Slowly begin to pour olive oil while whisking. When dressing is golden and emulsified, set dressing aside.
Cut pear in half. Use a mellon baller or teaspoon and remove pear core. Cut off stem and base of pear. Slice thinly. Cut precooked and peeled beets into quarters.
To compose salad, add a spoon full of dressing to plate. Add beets, pears, celery and hazelnuts. Add honeycomb, blue cheese and basil.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.