For the next four days, we have the pleasure of hosting a very special guest! Paul's identical twin Peter flew in from L.A. to spend some time with our family! We were all so very excited to see him. When Peter first walked into the house, Matthew mistakenly thought he was Paul and ran to give him a hug, stopping just short of doing so upon realizing that something was not quite right. When Paul came in behind, Matthew was super confused and ran back to hide behind Mommy. He quickly warmed up and has been bugging Peter ever since. He especially likes to jokingly punch him.
Paul taught him that.
We took a little hike since it was not too cold outside.
Matthew is rather upset because he had to face his worst fear...
...running water! This child has a serious fear of waves, waterfalls, etc. Rushing water in any form transforms him into a scared and frantic child. We have just gotten to the point where we can bathe him without him writhing and screaming as if we are dipping him in hot oil. After our little outing today, we might be going back to giving him sponge baths in the sink again. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
Anyway, it's been a great visit with Peter so far! We've missed this dude. I can't believe we have only seen him three times since our wedding. It's been far too long!
The recipe I'm posting today is for my favorite salad in the entire world. We made it for Peter his first night here because I thought he might like it even though he claims to not be a big fan of "greenery." Well, I'm not sure I converted him with this salad but I think it's delicious and Paul likes to gobble it down as well! I love it as a light main dish, but it also goes superbly as a first course to risotto or pasta. Make sure to use the firmest pears you can find - they will caramelize much, much better!
Roasted Pear Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
For the pears:
4 very firm D'Anjou pears
2 tablespoons sugar,
1 tablespoon butter, melted
For the vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper to taste
For the salad:
5-7 cups baby arugula (baby spinach will work too...but you really can't beat arugula in this recipe)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted*
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved off the block into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a heavy duty baking sheet or broiler pan on a rack set in the lower-middle position.
Peel each pear. Cut the ends off each pear and then split in half lengthwise. Using a very small melon baller or scoop, remove the core of each pear half. Cut each pear half into five equal-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and toss with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and toss again to evenly coat.
Once the oven has indicated that it has reached 500 degrees, carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and scatter the pears onto it in a single layer. Be sure that each pear piece is lying flat. They should sizzle when they hit the pan.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the pears are lightly browned on the bottom. Remove the pan from the oven, flip each pear piece, and bake an additional 5 minutes or until the pears appear soft and caramelized. Pay close attention to the pears to ensure that they don't burn!**
Meanwhile, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Use your vegetable peeler to shave the Parmesan. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Once the pears are done, toss the arugula with vinaigrette, then add the pears and toss again. Top with the walnuts and cheese. Serve!
*Toast walnuts in a 350 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes (or until they become lightly fragrant)
**I like this salad best served while the pears are still warm, but you can choose to make the pears up to 3 hours before you plan to eat the salad. If you choose to do it this way, leave the pears at room temperature. Refrigeration will negatively affect their taste.