Apparently, or should I say “appearantly”, I love pear salads at Christmas. This is the second year in a row where I have made similar pear salads for Christmas. Pear and Pecan Salad with a Ginger Dressing. But I am not alone in cooking with pears during the holidays. Pears have been a part of holiday traditions since the 1800’s. Maybe one of the reasons pears are so popular around the holidays is because they are a hearty fruit that has a long shelf-life, especially in cooler climates. Or perhaps because of their versatility. Or could it be just because they taste so darned good? Who knows, but pears and Christmas just seem to go together.
Pears are some of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits. They have been around since about 5000 B.C. They were a highly sought after and valuable commodity along the ancient trading routes due to their hardiness, versatility and long shelf-life. There are many different varieties of pears, and they are grown all over the world, in temperate climates. The Greek poet laureate Homer called pears “the gift of the Gods”. I think he was on to something.
Pear and Green Bean Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
4-5 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
2 pears, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup green beans, blanched
1/2 cup red pepper, diced fine
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups candied pecans
3-4 oz crumbled goat cheese
Arrange all the ingredients over the bed of spinach and top with the vinaigrette right before serving.
4 oz butter
3-4 TBSP brown sugar
2 tsp honey
1 1/2 -2 cups pecans
optional – cinnamon and/or cayenne pepper
Melt the butter, brown sugar and honey together in a hot skillet. When the sugar is completely melted, add the pecans and completely coat them in the mixture. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, and spread them out on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Let them cool completely, then break them apart and chop. I used my cinnamon honey that was part of my Christmas honey package from Blue Sage Honey Company. A Box of Honey
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP garlic
1 tsp fresh chives, sliced/chopped very thin
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
black pepper to taste
1-2 tsp honey – I used lavender honey
Whisk all the ingredients together and set aside. Pour over the salad right before serving so nothing gets drenched or wilted. Once again, I used some of my honey that I received for Christmas from Blue Sage Honey Company. This time, I used some of the lavender honey.
This salad can be made with or without the goat cheese. I am not a big cheese person at all, so I only put the cheese in the middle for all those who are cheese eaters. We all enjoyed the salad, and there was none left over; always a good sign.