Pear, Basil, and Pecorino Toscano Salad

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

Pear Basil Pecorino Toscano Salad
Sara Jenkins

Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins
4 servings
552 kcal
No ratings yet
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  • 12 ounces pecorino Toscano cheese
  • 4 ripe Bosc pears cored and cut into eighths
  • 1 cup packed 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


  • Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, break cheese into irregular chunks about 1/2-inch in size.
  • 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.
  • Serve at once.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 552kcal (28%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 28g (56%)Fat: 37g (57%)Saturated Fat: 16g (100%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 88mg (29%)Sodium: 1169mg (51%)Potassium: 299mg (9%)Fiber: 6g (25%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 714IU (14%)Vitamin C: 9mg (11%)Calcium: 932mg (93%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’m not one to gush about salads, but this one is definitely a keeper. It looks like autumn in a bowl, and when you eat it, you can’t help but feel a bit of that Italian rustic romance (especially on Super Bowl Sunday, the day I served this). Although the author says you can use different cheeses in this salad, I would recommend steering clear of pecorino Romano. It really is too salty for the pears, and I would hate for you to under-appreciate this salad based on just the cheese. I used Grand Old Man pecorino Toscano, which lent almost a buttery flavor. It’s a beautiful, simple dish.

Originally published November 23, 2009


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