Pan-Roasted Pear Salad

I’m obsessed with this salad lately. Maybe Rex can pipe in whether or not it’s as terrific as I think it is, but I’m really in love with it. If you start the recipe before cooking the rest of your meal, the pears will have sufficient time to cool before serving. The recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen’s 2009 Annual.

Pan-Roasted Pear Salad

3 ripe but firm pears, quartered and cored (the flesh at the neck of the pear should give slightly when pressed)
2 1/2 t. sugar
salt and pepper
2 t. olive oil, plus 2 T.
4 T. balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 head of green leaf lettuce, washed and torn
2 small bunches of watercress (or frisee or radichio, or just more lettuce), washed, dried and stemmed
4 oz. parmesan cheese, shaved into slices with a vegetable peeler (or blue cheese or goat cheese)
3/4 c. toasted pecans (or walnuts or almonds)

1. Toss the pears, 2 t. sugar, 1/4 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper in a medium bowl. Heat the 2 t. oil in  a large skillet over med.-high heat until jus smoking. Add the pears cut side down in a single layer and cook until golden brown, 2-4 minutes. Using a small spatula or fork, tip each pear onto its second cut side; continue to cook until the second side is light brown, 2-4 minutes longer. Turn off the heat, leave the skillet on the burner, and add 2 T. of vinegar; gently stir until the vinegar becomes glazy and coats the pears, about 30 seconds. Transfer the pears to a large plate and let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cut each pear crosswise into 1/2″ pieces.

2. Whisk the remaining 2 T. oil, remaining 2 T. vinegar, remaining 1/2 t. sugar, and shallot together in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, watercress and cooled pears and toss. Divide among plates and top with cheese and nuts.

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