Nov 18, 2007

Grape and Pear Salad

Recently I ran across a new cookbook, Padma Lakshmi's Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet. I'm not much of a reality tv fan, but I recognized her on the cover. I picked up the book out of curiousity. And then I got completely sucked in by the sometimes exotic, sometimes just surprising combinations of ingredients. There are many recipes in here I want to try, and will. Here's the first: A salad with grapes, pears, arugula and cilantro. I love salads that use herbs for more than just an accent. The cilantro here is a major player. So cilantro-phobes, steer clear. More for the rest of us. The recipe includes orange oil which may seem a little shi-shi, but is so worth it. Made the salad the first time without it and it was good, but not wow. You only use a couple of drops, so it'll last a long time. Can't wait to try it in other dressings and even baked goods.

First, make the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 drops of orange oil

Combine in a small bowl and whisk together.

Then the salad:
4 handfuls of arugula
2 handfuls of cilantro
small bunch of black seedless grapes, halved
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and sliced
2 ounces of pecorino, shaved into shards with a vegetable peeler
pinch of sea salt

You can make these as individual salads or in one large bowl. I made them individually as large main course lunch servings. (We had a little soup on the side.) Will serve more as a light salad course. Split greens between two large plates. Spinkle on grapes and pecorino shards. Take half of pear slices, fan them a little and place them in the center of the salad. Spinkle the rest of the dressing over top and then a little sea salt.

One note: we had the grapes at room temp, but I think they might be better chilled for a little more contrast.

Serves 2 as a main dish salad or 4 as a small salad.

Adapted from Padma Lakshmi's Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet.

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