Sweet Spring Salad With Pears, Mâche And Balsamic Reduction

Sweet Spring Salad With Pears, Mâche And Balsamic Reduction

Pears have a reputation as a fall fruit and it’s true. They were destined to be paired with cranberries in hearty fall and winter tarts and treats, or with ginger in preserves, or poached in wine to end a chilly evening. What people might not realize, though, is that some varieties of pears enjoy their heyday in the spring time as well, like green and red anjou pears and bosc pears. Colonists brought pears to Oregon and Washington in the 1800s and they’ve been thriving ever since. This year will be no different.


One of my favorite uses for spring pears is in salads. My favorite combination features sweet green d’anjou pears, soft and subtle greens, candied walnuts and rich balsamic glaze. This salad is a great addition to your brunch time antics, but also makes a great meal when pan-fried tofu cubes are added. Butter leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce, and escarole are all good options for your salad greens, but today I’d like to introduce you to another green you might not have tried yet: mâche.

Mâche is also known as “lamb’s lettuce” because it’s in season in the spring, just like the lambs who like to chew on it. Oh yeah, and mâche is big in France. It’s in the valerian family and it’s said to have some of the same relaxing, stress-busting benefits of its herby cousins. Raw or cooked, it’s a mild and softly flavored green without any typical offensive bitterness. Now’s the time to catch it sprouting up in your local market–or think about growing some yourself. If you’re shopping for it, you might also see it labeled “corn salad” or “field salad.” Come the warmth of summer, mâche’s all gone.

Epic Roots is a great source for mâche. They grow it right here on the left coast, down in California. Although their farms are not organic, the company is focused on sustainability and I think that makes it a-ok. Here in the Pacific Northwest, both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry their products. For today’s recipe, I’ve veganized a recipe that Epic Roots is featuring on their packaging in March and April.

Pear Salad with Mâche Greens and Balsamic Glaze
Yield: 2 side servings or 1 dinner serving

1 green d’anjou pear, ripe but firm (cored and sliced thinly)
4 oz mâche (Epic Roots offers rosettes or a mix)
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb and fronds

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp finely chopped shallot
3/4 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
Sea aalt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup candied walnuts (The Trader Joe’s variety are vegan!)
2 Tbsp balsamic reduction (About half of the recipe below)

Toss salad ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss. Sprinkle with candied walnuts and drizzle with balsamic glaze to garnish.

To make balsamic reduction:

Heat 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, reducing by half until the vinegar is syrupy. Take care not to overcook it, and check for consistency periodically by drizzling some on a plate. When it’s thick and syrupy and tastes sweet and tango, you’ve crossed the finish line!

To make a meal out of it:

In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Cut 1/2 lb extra firm tofu into 1-inch cubes. Fry in oil, turning frequently, until tofu is lightly browned on all sides. Remove from saucepan and sprinkle with a pinch of salt before placing on top of your assembled salad.

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Eva Rosenberg

Eva Rosenberg

Welcome to Eva's Kitchen where I share my adventures in cooking. My creations may not always turn out Pinterest perfect, but I usually end up with a funny picture or an interesting meal. Thanks for stopping by!


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