Salads are pretty much a mainstay in our evening meals; providing a great way to get the healthy and nutritious leafy greens, veggies and/or fruits we crave in one bountiful side… or main course, depending on how they’re tossed up.
Similar to the soups I love, salads allow you to chop and drop just about anything that appeals to you in one bowl, with little need to follow a recipe, and end up with something delicious. And while the “chop and drop” method is the route I follow on most nights, I do really love a more composed, plated salad as well. I think plated salads appeal to the inner artist that resides somewhere in all of us; providing an opportunity to layer flavors and colors in a truly appealing manner. This is especially true when you want to showcase one or more ingredients that are just plain delicious… and visually alluring… like these d’Anjou pears from Stemilt. Sweet, juicy and immensely flavorful, d’Anjou pears are the perfect cap to this simple salad of lightly dressed arugula dotted with plump, fresh, ruby-red pomegranate seeds, some toasted walnuts, and a few slices of pumpkin-orange Fuyu persimmons.
Though this delicious and vibrantly colored salad could certainly be served up any night of the week (it’s that easy!), the combination of colorful, sweet, seasonal fruits balanced with a beautiful, nutty arugula dressed with a honey-orange champagne vinaigrette makes it an especially appealing holiday plating.
- 2 Stemilt d'Anjou pears, cored and sliced into thin wedges
- 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, divided
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 Fuyu persimmons, tops removed, peeled, sliced into half-moons
- 4 to 5 oz baby arugula
- Approximately 20 walnut halves
- 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Scant pinch kosher salt, to taste
Stemilt’s d’Anjou pears are a perfect choice for this salad plating; sweet, juicy and flavorful, with a firm, dense structure that keeps them looking pretty after they are sliced and plated.
I tend to use some sort of citrus with all apples or pears I slice… to keep them looking their best (some varieties tend to brown when sliced) and an acidic component (like lemon, lime, or orange) helps curb this process. With this salad, anything other than orange juice may be too harsh in flavor.
To make things easy, I will arrange my undressed greens up to an hour in advance by placing them in a bowl topped with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap before transferring them to the fridge for keeping. I’ll toast the walnuts and set them aside. And, make the dressing and pop it in the fridge, taking it out about a half hour before serving to get it to room temp. I’ll also get my pomegranate seeds removed and keep them fresh in the fridge just before plating. So, all that needs to be done just before you are ready to eat is slice up your pears and persimmons.
I prefer the Fuyu persimmons in this plating (over the Hachiya variety). The Fuyu persimmon is orange in color and kind of short and squat, like a tomato. It’s subtly sweet and beautifully brilliant in color. It’s best when fully ripe (bright orange in color) and peeled to remove its less-than-pleasing skin. And… pomegranate seeds provide the perfect little pop of freshness (and amazing color).
- In a small bowl, briskly whisk 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, champagne vinegar and honey, until honey is completely incorporated.
- Whisk in olive oil until incorporated and season with salt. Set aside.
- Prep pears and place them in a bowl with remaining orange juice.
- Place walnuts in a skillet over medium high heat to toast for about 30 to 45 seconds (watching them closely so as not to burn them). Remove from heat and set aside.
- To remove pomegranate seeds from fruit, simply score skin of pomegranate, crosswise through middle of fruit with a sharp knife, until you hit the membrane. (The idea is to get through the leathery skin of the fruit, not through the fleshy interior).
- Using your fingers, carefully pry the two sides of fruit apart.
- Then place one half, fruit-side down, in the palm of your hand held over a bowl and gently (but firmly) rap the exterior of the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds will fall into your palm and into the bowl like magic. Not all out? Keep rapping until they are. Repeat with remaining halve and set seeds aside.
- Prep persimmons and set aside.
- Place arugula in a large bowl and lightly dress with vinaigrette, to taste.
- Portion greens out onto plates. Arrange 4 to 6 slices of pear atop each plate of greens.
- Nestle 2 to 3 slices of persimmon on each plate, then sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of fresh pomegranate seeds and and 5 walnut halves.
- Serve immediately.
- Calories: 273
- Fat Content: 14
- Protein Content: 3.8
- Carbohydrate Content: 37.8
- Fiber Content: 6.6
- Sugar Content: 17.1