Pear, Arugula, and Pancetta Salad

So forget your traditional green garden salad. Take your head of iceberg, romaine, whatever, and just huck it out the door because I’m going to share with you one of the best salads that I’ve ever had…hands down. Buckle up, we’re about to go down the salad super highway…

This past Thanksgiving, I wanted to serve something cool…I had personally grown a little tired of the “traditional” salad and wanted to live my culinary life a little closer to the edge. After poring for a while over epicurious, I found this recipe. It had gotten rave reviews by a fair number of people. Surely, all these people couldn’t be wrong right?

Unfortunately, I never got to make this over the Thanksgiving holiday…there was a slight change in the menu last minute so this recipe got tabled…that is until this past weekend! I jumped on the opportunity to finally make this and I couldn’t drive my overpowered car to the supermarket fast enough to find some pancetta and ricotta salata.

Preparing the salad itself is, as expected, a cinch. The vinaigrette takes mere minutes to prepare, and the only “time consuming” step is the frying of the pancetta. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though…one of the benefits of frying pancetta, or bacon for that matter, is that you get to snag a few pieces as they come out of the pan. Let’s face it, are there really very many things out there better than fresh bacon or pancetta right out of the pan? Didn’t think so…

Ricotta salata is a harder form of the usual ricotta cheese that we are familiar with. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to find either. We managed to find some wedged in between the block Parmesan and Romano cheeses. A wee bit saltier, this ricotta counters well with the rest of the flavors present in the salad…and BOY are there other flavors in this salad. The sweetness of the pears, the slight crunchy saltiness of the pancetta, the pepperiness of the arugula, and the sweet tang of the vinaigrette.

It’s really hard not to fall deeply in love with this salad…we sure did!


Pear, Arugula, and Pancetta Salad

Adapted from epicurious.com

Yields 4 (first course) servings

Ingredients

For vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon mild honey (alfalfa, clover, orange blossom, tulip poplar, or tupelo)
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

For salad
2 oz thinly sliced pancetta (4 to 5 slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 firm ripe pears
4 cups baby arugula or torn larger arugula (1 ¼ lbs)
3 oz ricotta salata, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

Preparation

Make vinaigrette:
Whisk together vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.

Make salad:
Cook pancetta in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning frequently, until just crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain (pancetta will crisp as it cools). Tear into bite-size pieces.

Halve pears lengthwise, core, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Quarter slices into bite sized pieces.

Add pears to dressing along with arugula, cheese, and pancetta, tossing to coat.

Arugula on FoodistaArugula
Pear on FoodistaPear
Pancetta on FoodistaPancetta

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~ by tastydesu on February 26, 2010.

One Response to “Pear, Arugula, and Pancetta Salad”

  1. […] Where this meaty piece of awesome has been all my life, I’ll never know, but I will thank this salad for showing me the one true cured meat path. Taking a riff off of something I saw Rachel Ray do […]

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