Peak-Season Pears

Northwest Pear Pistachio Salad Dressing & Spicy Roasted Pears

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto


The season for garden-fresh tomatoes is behind us, opening a door for other ways to make salads shine. Inspiration came with autumn’s offering of Northwest pears and a recipe for Pear Vinaigrette from my friend Braiden Rex-Johnson’s book Inside the Pike Place Market, Sasquatch Books, 1999.
If you have a fruit-phobe in your midst, this recipe is a good way to sneak a little fresh fruit into the diet. Taking time to make your own salad dressing has more benefits – you can use top-quality oils and vinegars and minimize the sweeteners that are so prevalent in bottled dressings. Here I use flavorful sherry vinegar, pistachio oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Shower your salad with a handful of roasted pistachios for crunch.
One ounce of pistachios, about 49 nuts, offers 6 grams of protein and 12% of the Daily Value for fiber. They are rich in monounsaturated fat, thiamin, copper, manganese and B6. Research suggests that they trigger a low glycemic response, may help with weight management and promote cardiovascular health Count on juicy pears for vitamin C and more fiber (Reference 1).



Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

The dressing can be made a day or two ahead of serving, if needed.  Toss it with tender greens such as mixed baby lettuces or butter lettuce. Take the pear theme further by topping it with roast chunks of Spicy Roast Pears. I tried a dry blend of spicy Pilpelchuma seasoning (ground chili, caraway, cumin and garlic), along with smoked paprika. You’ll find a recipe for a fresh Pilpelchuma to in the cookbook, Jerusalem, authored by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ten Speed Press, 2012. It is a garlicky, fresh chili and spice paste, similar to harissa, used by Jews from Tripoli according to the authors.
For best results, select a juice-ripe pear for the dressing and firm pears for roasting. Pears taste best if they don’t ripen on the tree so you can buy them in a not-yet-ready state and ripen them to perfection at room temperature at home. A Bartlett pear becomes golden, sometimes pinkish as it ripens but most varieties don’t change color. To judge ripeness for non-Bartlett varieties Check the Neck™: Lightly press neck of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure it is ready-to-use. (Reference 2).


 Pear Pistachio Salad Dressing & Spicy Roasted Pears

 Adapted from “Pear Vinaigrette” by Braiden Rex-Johnson, Inside the Pike Place Market, Sasquatch Books, Inc. You don’t need to peel the pear to make the dressing, preserving nutrients and fiber near the skin. Serve this dressing over baby greens or torn Butter lettuce with a shower of pistachios and a garnish of Roasted Spiced Pears.

1 (8-ounce) ripe Bartlett pear, 2 cups coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon chopped shallot
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons pistachio oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 cups baby greens or tender lettuce
Roasted Spiced Pears, recipe follows
Roasted pistachios

Combine pear, vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in blender container. Whirl until smooth. If blender lid has an opening in the top, add oils in a thin stream while processing on lowest speed. (Or add oil, cover blender and whirl until smooth.) Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Transfer to a covered container and chill until ready to use or up to two days. To serve, toss with greens with half of dressing and half of Roasted Spiced pears. (Chill remaining dressing and pears for another salad.) Sprinkle with pistachios. Makes 4 servings.

Spicy Roasted Pears
2 ripe but firm pears, peeled cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Pilpelchuma or another spice blend
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

To roast the pears, preheat oven to 500°F. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl; add pear chunks and toss gently. Spread the pears on a rimmed, lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 9 to 11 minutes or until slightly caramelized. Cool to warm or room temperature. Toss with salad as described above. Pears can be made 1 day ahead of serving.

© 2014 Lorelle Del Matto


1.  American Pistachios
2.  USA Pears

© 2014 Lorelle Del Matto

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


  1. […] for Muhamarra with Za’atar-Spiced Pita Chips , Pumpkin Hummus with Fig-Olive Gremolata  or Spicy Roasted Pears (with Pilpechuma) in a salad recipe with pear dressing . Za’atar & Sumac Spiced Salmon with Pomegranate […]

Speak Your Mind