Monday, September 29, 2008

Pear and Walnut Salad with Parmesan and Honey Dressing

I'm getting my second chance at a good education. This week, my Sailor-girl had three science experiments to demonstrate common ways for separating a solution. We used evaporation, distillation, and chromatography. (It's amazing what I-the teacher-am learning. Hopefully the student is getting something out of it, too.) For distillation, we tasted a small skillet of sugar water and then boiled it, capturing some of the condensation on the pot lid, which we dripped into a cup. The point of the experiment was to taste the cooled, collected water and realize that it contained no sugar-the solution had separated through distillation. But I'm not just a teacher; I'm a cook and a frugal one at that. Even though the experiment was over, the point was proven, the budding scientist was recording her data...I had my eye on that sugar water. Within a few minutes of a hard boil, the sugars had melted and burned into a lovely caramel. I poured it out onto a greased cookie sheet, and started imagining how burnt sugar could turn into a school lunch. Maybe a pear salad with nuts and Parmesan with a little sprinkle of sugar crystals for sweetness? I could have added nuts before I poured it out-but as an afterthought, I crushed some of the candied sugar and tossed it with the nuts. The salad turned out to be the most delicious 4th grade science assignment I've ever tasted, sweet and crunchy, savory and peppery. My favorite place to experiment, for science or otherwise, is in the kitchen.

Money Saving Tips: I found my arugula ($2.50) on sale in the organic produce section. It's a good idea to always browse the whole produce section for unexpected deals. Regular spinach or even a baby spring mix would make a nice substitute. If you don't have pears, thinly sliced apple would work well. Substitute your walnuts for whatever variety you have on hand. Blue cheese or feta could replace the Parmesan.
Arugula, Pear and Candied Walnut Salad with Honey Dressing
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for four servings
Notes: I've written the easiest way to make candied nuts for this recipe and not the science experiment method described above.
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or other variety
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces fresh arugula or spinach
2 pears, thinly sliced, peeled or unpeeled
2 ounces thinly shaved Parmesan
Coat a plate sized sheet of waxed paper with cooking spray. In a small skillet, melt sugar over medium heat, watching closely. As soon as the sugar is a deep caramel color, toss in walnuts. Place nuts on prepared waxed paper and break apart as soon as they are cool enough to handle. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. To make salad, arrange greens on four separate plates. Top with pears, nuts, and parmesan. Drizzle with dressing and serve. Coming Tomorrow:
Tuesdays with Dorie
Caramel Apple Creme Brulee

48 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

So fun about the science experiments!! And such an elegant salad - love the pairing of pears (ha!) and walnuts.

Patsyk said...

We are not quite at the science experiment stage yet, but I can imagine how interesting it must be to learn alongside your kids!

That salad looks wonderful to me. My kids wouldn't eat it, some components, just not as a salad. I think it sounds wonderful though!

Peter M said...

A fall classic (the salad) and the caramel garnish is pure evil.

Katherine Aucoin said...

We were doing science experiements yesterday on their baby teeth. Your salad sounds wonderful, the combination of the parm and honey sounds amazing. I have to try this!

Lisa said...

This sounds so delcious! My daughter loves science experiments and you reminded me that I need to do more with her.

Audrey said...

This looks wonderful, and elegant.

Allie said...

Got to love the experiments that involve food. Makes it even more fun and yummy when you can eat it after!

Snooky doodle said...

I just discovered your blog and i really like it. I fell in love with the peanut bautter banana swirl cake. looks amazing :-)Interesting blog

Sara said...

What a yummy fall salad! Caramel Apple Creme Brulee tomorrow makes me happy!

Candy said...

How fun! When I taught 6th grade science we always did food related experiments. Mac and cheese was always a favorite--so many lessons in it's preparation!

Jenny said...

Looks so good Prudy! The caramel sounds so good on top! I can't wait to get into science projects with my boys, I picture them to really enjoy it. Have a great Monday.

Amy said...

oh this looks delicious, Prudy!! Love it! Going to have to snag me some pears today at the store.. thankyou for sharing this salad idea! I am always looking for ways to get my veggies in! Yummy!

Catherine said...

What a pretty salad. It looks delicious!

Marjie said...

Grape jam was a cool science experiment, too! Creation of a colloid - neither liquid nor solid - and a reward at the end! This looks like something everyone would enjoy.

Maria said...

What a lovely looking salad! And we love Dorie's Corniest muffins too!

Cathy said...

That picture of the sugar is the coolest thing ever! That should be in a science textbook somewhere (as well as in a cookbook!) This looks like the kind of salad that I would really want to dive into.

Dawn said...

How elegant! I do like this combo. But what I really like is your plates. Where did you get them? I swear I've seen them before? Williams Sonoma? Crate & Barrel?
(it's the salad plate)

Veronica said...

We're just starting Science fair projects around here! The salad sounds delicious.

HoneyB said...

It sounds delicious! Looks it too!

Mary Ann said...

This looks perfect for me, because we have tons of ripe pears that are waiting to be used. I love your science skills!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A flavorful, refined and scrumptious salad! I love it!

Cheers,

Rosa

Andrea said...

That salad looks and sounds wonderful, and what a fun science experiment :) The salty from the parmesan and the sweet from the pear and honey and the crunch from the walnut and caramel, wow, what a combination!

Pam said...

I love this kind of salad - the pear adds such a nice flavor. Your salad dressing sounds wonderful - I can't wait to try it.

The Blonde Duck said...

I can't wait until that apple creme brule! And that salad looks so elegant. I would have never thought to do that with sugar water...

Kelly said...

I just found your blog and I love it..I love the layout and the music! So cute!
And the food looks mighty tasty!
I must put you on my blogroll.. :)

Esi said...

I'd say that is a pretty delicious experiment!

Aggie said...

You are so cool Prudy! I love how you think! I don't know if I would've seen a salad topping in that experiment...

I just bought some arugula yesterday and am craving a salad with pears in it! This looks great!

Beth said...

I wish you'd been my teacher!! What a fantastic way to use the caramelised sugar!

1freshstart said...

That's so cool! Was she excited to eat her science experiment too?
~Cat

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I can not belive you sometimes, you're so funny! I love this idea and that salad could be at any restaurant menu! Your kids must have a blast with you being their teacher!

temparoo said...

Prudence,

I just want to let you know that your recipes are good. I always check your blog in the morning because that is what my wife, who is one of your biggest fanzz and BFF's is going to make us for dinner. Honestly your blog has really helped our marriage, we no longer fight about what is for dinner, because now I just check your blog. If it is a recipe I don't like I just stop at Wendy's or Arby's and fill up before I get home. She does not know, and I tell her I am eating light because I am trying to loose weight.

Anyway props to you Prudence

Anne said...

Yum, that salad looks perfect for lunch!

Natashya said...

You are amazing. Am I too old to be in your class?

Bridgett said...

I used to love school science experiments especially in high school when they were involved. What a lucky little girl you have to do these at a young age, I think it is wonderful. A great prelude to a wonderful salad. I am dying to try the honey dressing.

jenjen said...

What a cool experiment! Your salad looks wonderful. I love the pairing of the pears and walnuts together!

MK and Co. said...

I love these flavor combinations. Plus it's always good to eat healthy right now in this season to make up for the abundance of baked goods I'm consuming! Thanks!

Deanna said...

I am so in love!

gigi said...

I've always loved pears. I like them with cottage cheese and walnuts too. This sounds like it could be a favorite with the spinach. Yummy.

Girl Japan said...

You are so talented P!!! I look forward to your new posts everyday at work! Pears/Walnuts what a happy marriage.

Emily said...

Pollyanna . . . steak and ice cream are out the window! This salad has zing lady! I actually have ripe pears at home . . . inspiration!

Those RM's . . . they sure can cook!

n.o.e said...

Prudy, this looks amazing! I buy arugula regularly, and I've yet to catch it on sale. I'll keep looking, though. I actually bought two plants and am going to try to grow it indoors. Talk about experiments!

I can't wait to try this salad.
Nancy

hot garlic said...

Oh I love the added sweetness, and nuts! I can not turn down a salad with sugar or nuts, or sugar nuts {which sound dirty... yet fun}.

Emiline said...

That sounds like my kind of salad!

And what a wonderful teacher you are. Science experiments are the best.

Marie said...

Delicious looking salad Erin! We never ever got to do delicious science experiments when I was at school. Pears and cheese go so very well together as do nuts!

Dee said...

Oh, what fun! Isn't it great that your science experiments yieled such delicious results?

Thank you for your kind words, by the way.

Grace said...

first of all, your fork is neato. secondly, i think this salad is extremely sophisticated yet totally doable. the dressing alone would be worth guzzling. :)

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