On Wednesday I posted a small tease on what today’s blog would be – pear salad. I quickly discovered based on a few of your comments online and several offline that this particular recipe is one that people either love or hate; no in between whatsoever. Some of you even said you had never heard of this particular salad.
We always try to share the origin of a particular recipe or at least give a little history. I have had issue finding the actual origin of pear salad but my 88 year old Mother told me that it was a recipe that her Mother made when she was a young girl. That puts it at least near a hundred years old. Interestingly it does appear to be a southern recipe as none of our Food Flipper friends from other parts of the US were familiar.
My grandmother Gladys McBride Entrekin was a fabulous cook according to her children. When she was a teenager, she was sent to a boarding school and while there learned how to cook and sew. She learned to make her own mayonnaise, butter and cheese and do a lot of things that rural women had not been exposed to yet. She was big on preserves and jams and since the family had pear trees, she spent a lot of time preserving those to use throughout the winter months. According to Mom, pear salad was something she liked to serve at Sunday dinners and she used her preserved pears, homemade mayo and cheese.
I remember Mom served pear salad at special family meals or when couple friends came to dinner. It was considered a bit upscale for the 1970’s. To say the ingredients really doesn’t conjure up a mouth watering impression is an understatement but somehow the combination of sweet pears, tangy mayo and sharp cheddar cheese works.
The idea for this particular flip came when Mom asked if it was something I could make. In true Food Flippers spirit, I felt it was worthy revisiting and perhaps updating just a bit. Here’s a picture of the original:
Iceberg lettuce, preserved pears, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese and a maraschino cherry on top. Pretty basic ingredients. Love it or hate it.
I originally decided to ditch the iceberg lettuce because there are so many other great options available now. However, due to the issue surrounding romaine (my favorite), I opted for arugula combined with a little iceberg. I actually wanted to use butter lettuce but our local grocer was out so I went with what was available. Turns out the arugula mix worked well.
Next, there had to be something other than a dollop of mayo for the center of the pear. Don’t get me wrong, mayonnaise is my favorite condiment (Blue Plate to be exact) but I thought this needed an update. What I came up with uses cream cheese…how bad can that be? Instead of grated cheddar I opted for an extra sharp cheddar cheese stick and I left the cherry out completely, although you could leave it if you prefer.
The end result paired really well. (See what I did there?) I would easily serve this for a ladies luncheon, family gathering or like I did last evening, with a Saturday night dinner. The flavors were bright and refreshing and I think a bit above the original.
NOW….one half of Food Flippers is not crazy about pears due to a texture issue. Even HE said he would eat this salad if I presented it again. So the moral of the story is if you do not like pears, you might want to consider giving this a try. If you love pears and the original version, then you MUST try this flip. If you’ve never even had pear salad, you need to resolve this oversight. Make a pear happy!
The Recipe: Pear Salad (makes 4 servings)
8 pear preserve halves (2 per serving)
4 cups chopped greens (iceberg, romaine, arugula, butter – your choice) – 1 cup per serving
2 cups cream cheese mixture (recipe to follow) – 2-3 heaping T per serving
Extra sharp cheddar cheese sticks or grated to top each salad
Cream Cheese Topping:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained but reserve juice
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup dried cranberries, cherries or golden raisins (I used a mixture of all three)
- Wash and prepare lettuce. Arrange on individual serving plates.
- Top greens with 2 pear halves per serving. Chill until ready to serve.
- Mix together cream cheese, about ¾ c crushed pineapple, ¼ c of the reserved juice and dried fruits. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes (or longer) before topping pears.
- When ready to serve, dollop 2-3 T on top of each pear.
- Sprinkle grated cheese on top or place cheese stick on the side.