Many people shy away from buying pears because of the frustration of not knowing when they are ripe to eat. I did the same thing until I learned the secret to knowing just when they are ready. It’s just a gently push on the stem end to see if it gives a little. That’s it and it works every time. Unlike an apple, a pear usually takes a few days at home to ripen so you need to plan to buy them a few days ahead of when you want to eat them. This is because pears bruise easily, so they are better when picked while still hard. And unlike most fruit, they improve in texture and flavor after they are picked. I usually allow two to three days at room temperature.
There are over 5,000 varieties of pears grown throughout the world. I can’t say I have eaten more then 15 different varieties and my favorite is the Anjou. Commonly referred to by its French name D’Anjou, I prefer it for its subtle sweetness and light citrus flavor. Its dense flesh also holds up well when sliced and used in salads. It’s just now coming in season.
I am still craving lighter food for dinner and definitely something that goes together in 30 minutes or less. You’ll get both with this salad, as well as healthy eating.
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot (1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic can be substituted)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 10 ounces cleaned spinach leaves (two 5 ounce packages) or 16 cups
- 2 ripe pears, cored, quartered and sliced
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- For the honey vinaigrette, whisk together red wine vinegar, shallot, honey and dijon. Whisk in olive oil until smooth, then season with salt and pepper (makes ½ cup).
- Toss spinach with honey vinaigrette. Add pears, bacon and goat cheese and toss gently, just enough to evenly distribute ingredients.