Pear salad with honey-cranberry drizzle

Thanksgiving feastOur family Thanksgiving menu is a little bit of a moving target. Turkey? Check. Stuffing? Check. Cranberry sauce? Check.

But sometimes the sweet potatoes show up roasted, sometimes mashed, sometimes in a pie. Some years, mashed potatoes make an appearance, other years, we save them for another meal. This year, steamed broccoli made the menu.

Yes, steamed broccoli. Come on…don’t you think “steamed broccoli” whenever you think “pilgrim hat?”

We generally have some manner of salad, and this year, Mom mentioned a pear salad in the days leading up to the feasting. However, at a critical moment just before our guests were to arrive, she arranged some romaine leaves on five plates and handed me three washed pears. “Here you go,” she said. “You’re in charge of the salad.”

The moment of truth upon me, I took a look at what I had to work with: one red pear, two yellow pears. Some pecans. Dried cranberries.

I set to work, slicing the pears thinly and arranging them on the plate in the world’s most OCD manner. As it turned out, I needed the whole red pear, and 1.2 yellow pears to accomplish an even number of slices on each plate.

That left me with .8 yellow pear. What do you do with that? It’s not like you can eat it, not when you’re faced with the impending groaning sideboard. And then, inspiration hit. I diced the last .8 pear, mixed that diced pear with dried cranberries, and topped the slices with the mixture. I added crumbled pecans on top, and then had to decide how to finish the dish.

Had I had blue cheese, this is where I would have crumbled some of that, too, and called it a salad. But Mom had just purged the refrigerator of blue cheese, and while she did have some blue cheese dressing in the refrigerator door, it was good that we checked the expiration date: it turned out to be June, and that left me back at the drawing board. It needed a finishing touch, and if it wasn’t to be cheese-related, then I was going to have to improvise an actual dressing.

“I have honey mustard dressing,” she said, but that didn’t jibe with my developing salad fantasy.

“Do you have honey?” I asked.

She did.

“Cranberry juice?”

Also a yes.

And thus was born a slightly sweet, fruit-appropriate, yet Thanksgivingesque dressing for the pear salad. Drizzled overtop, it was delicious, and would also make a nice addition to the table any time you have pears at perfect, sliceable stage of ripeness.

Pear salad with honey-cranberry drizzle
Pear salad (Serves 5)

Enough romaine leaves to line 5 plates
3 pears (preferably different colors, for contrast)
1/3 c. dried cranberries
¼ c. pecan halves
1 ½ Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp cranberry juice

  1. Line the plates with the romaine leaves.
  2. Slice the pears thinly, reserving approximately ¾ of one pear. Arrange the slices evenly on the lettuce leaves.
  3. Dice the remaining pear and mix it with the cranberries. Divide the mixture evenly between the five plates, mounding it in the center of the sliced pears.
  4. Crumble the pecan halves and divide them evenly between the five plates, sprinkling them over the mound of diced pears and dried cranberries.
  5. Whisk together the honey and cranberry juice (adjusting the amount of cranberry juice depending on how thin your honey is – you want this to be a mixture that can be drizzled) and drizzle a small amount over each salad.
  6. Serve immediately.

This is my contribution for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Truffle of What’s On My Plate. Stop by later in the weekend for the full round-up of recipes and other herb, veggie and fruit goodness!

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18 Responses to “Pear salad with honey-cranberry drizzle”


  1. 1 Lydia November 23, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Lovely salad! I remember many Thanksgivings when there was nothing green on the table — no salad, no veg. All brown food. Now that we are the hosts, instead of our parents, we can have as much green food as we like — and with vegetarian kids, that means quite a lot of green. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener November 23, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Lydia, thanks! I have to chuckle at the thought of brown-food Thanksgivings. When I was in college, I used to joke that I would go for days eating only orange food (steamed carrots, various things topped with shredded cheddar, mac and cheese). It’s easy to get monochromatic! Having the vegetarians at the table definitely aids in breaking that rut. Usually we always have something green — brussels sprouts are a big norm for us — and often some sort of turnip-related dish, too. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  3. 3 steven November 23, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Great improvisation! Being a hog, I would have eaten the extra pear slice.

  4. 4 kate smudges November 23, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    This recipe looks good. I like the way you are able to improvise with whatever ingredients you have on hand. I love cranberries!

  5. 5 inadvertentgardener November 23, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Steven, I thought about eating the extra pear slice, but had already eaten so many appetizery things that I was quite full already! Plus, I kind of liked the pear-on-pear effect.

    Kate, I love cranberries, too — I always buy a bunch around now and freeze them for use later in the winter.

  6. 6 Jen-Ben November 23, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    The salad looks delicious, but, then again, so does the whole plate. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Tell the ‘rents I said hello!

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener November 23, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Jen-Ben, I will! I will! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too. Hope you four had a great holiday!

  8. 8 anniebetty November 24, 2007 at 9:23 am

    I remember when I lived in Philly about 14 years back and it snowed or iced for weeks. One night I nearly went insane when I realized that outside it was WHITE, my walls were WHITE, and I only had WHITE food to eat in my apartment. Rice, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream, pasta …

    I put on my boots, slogged through 18 inches of new snow, and ate at a lovely spot I found that offered (of all things) foods of many colors.

    And drinks, but that’s another story.

  9. 9 Katie November 24, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Oh, Very well done – esp. for a ‘last minute only what’s on hand’ salad. Very pretty and perfect before the big meal!
    And what’s wrong with steamed broccoli?!?!?

  10. 10 Karen Ledebur November 24, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Oh my goodness…steamed broccoli…what happened to peanut soup? Let’s face it the pilgrims didn’t have either but at least soup with a nutty base is decadent and you can’t say that about a steamed veggie. Way to go on the pear salad my dear….you always know how to come through when it’s crunch time. I can picture the whole scene in my head!

  11. 11 Heather November 25, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Gosh I want to come eat at your house!

  12. 12 Laurie November 27, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I love reading about other cook’s thought processes while creating a new recipe, and you did a terrific job of describing your. That, plus the lovely-sounding salad, make for a great post. Thanks!

  13. 13 Kalyn November 27, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Honey and cranberry in salad dressing sounds great. You’re such a good intuitive cook.

  14. 14 inadvertentgardener November 27, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    AB, you crack me up. I would have slogged through the snow for food and drink of other colors, too.

    Katie, there’s nothing at all wrong with steamed broccoli! For some reason, it seemed anachronistic at the holiday table, but that’s just me and my weird biases…

    Karen, ha! The peanut soup! I completely forgot about that…or maybe blocked it out?

    Heather, you’re welcome anytime. :-)

    Laurie, thanks so much — what a sweet comment!

    Kalyn, thanks — that’s high praise from one of my cooking heroes!

  15. 15 Michelle November 28, 2007 at 8:24 am

    OH my! This looks simply delicious! I’m going to put it on my list for Christmas!

  16. 16 sharon millar November 28, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Yum! Thanks for sharing your creative recipe. Improvising is the best. I’m sure some of the classics that we take for granted were once the work of some creative improviser.
    I will try it, so thanks,
    Sharon

  17. 17 inadvertentgardener December 2, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Michelle, that would be a great time to serve it!

    Sharon, I’m always amazed how many new combinations of food there are with which to improvise. It’s lots of fun, for sure!


  1. 1 So Good Blog/News Round-Up 11/26 | So Good Trackback on November 26, 2007 at 5:46 pm

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