Fashion sweeps through restaurants in Italy as quickly and thoroughly as in all other aspects of life there. A few years ago, arugula, pear, and Pecorino salad turned up everywhere. I tried basil in place of arugula and loved the still pungent yet milder flavor. I start making this pear, basil, and Pecorino Toscano salad in the early fall with little juicy pears and aromatic end-of-the-season basil from the farmers’ market. Later, as the first frost creeps down through the Hudson Valley and the basil disappears, I substitute thinly sliced hearts of celery and whole celery leaves (the celery is also wonderful along with the basil).
You can make this pear salad with many different cheeses; each one will change the flavor slightly. Look for a cheese that will keep its shape in a salad, such as an aged cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a crumbly blue.–Sara Jenkins
Pear, Basil, and Pecorino Toscano Salad Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 15 minutes | Makes 4
- 12 ounces Pecorino Toscano cheese
- 4 ripe Bosc pears, cored and cut into eighths
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Vin Santo vinegar or other high-quality mild white wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or other medium-coarse sea salt, or more to taste
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, break cheese into irregular chunks about 1/2-inch in size.
- 2. Place cheese, pear slices, basil leaves, oil, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl and toss to combine. Season with pepper and more salt if needed.
- 3. Serve at once.
Pear, Basil, and Pecorino Toscano Salad Recipe © 2008 Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox. Photo © 2008 Alan Richardson. All rights reserved.