I was given a box of beautiful Abate Fetel pears from Tru-Cape recently along with a card with this intriguing recipe. I had never tasted nor considered pickling butternut before so immediately wanted to give it a go.
Lately, I’ve been getting into more complex salad recipes with multiple ingredients, and I liked a lot of what was going on with this one. The pears were at their perfect ripeness, but still firm and very succulent.
I also happened to have all the ingredients to make this salad apart from the goat’s cheese feta in the recipe. I substituted this with goat’s cheese, which if you have been around here before you will know I love.
I’m not generally a fan of fruit in salads, but when they are paired with salty cheese and other contrasting flavour elements, they seem to work. My pear, blue cheese, and walnut salad with a maple vinaigrette is always a winner. Either people love pears in salad or it’s a classic combination that never goes out of fashion.
So here is the recipe I tried out. * I may have made a bit more dressing and used more pumpkin seeds
- 1 small butternut
- 2 T sugar
- 2 T white wine vinegar
- 2 T water
- 2 Abate Fetel pears – firm but ripe – diced
- 1/4 goats cheese feta (I used goats cheese)
- 1 t finely diced red onion
- 1 t finely chopped chives
- 3 baby gem lettuce
- 1 T orange juice
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 t grain mustard
- 2 T pumpkin seeds
- 1 t honey
- pinch of sea salt
Peel the butternut and cut into quarters lengthways. Using a peeler, slice thin strips off the butternut. Lightly salt these and leave for 2o minutes.
Make a pickling liquid by mixing all the pickling ingredients together making sure the sugar dissolves. If it doesn’t dissolve, heat this on the stove in a small pot. Rinse the butternut (which would already have started to soften), cover it in the pickle, and leave this for a min of an hour.
Mix the salad dressing ingredients together.
To make the honey seeds, heat a nonstick frying pan and toast for a minute or so until they just begin to take on colour and make small popping sounds. Add the honey and move the seeds around until they are all coated. Add a pinch of salt and leave to cool.
Once you have got all the elements made, it’s time to assemble your salad. Quarter the gem lettuce and mix the pear, onion, chives, and cheese together. Scatter this mix over the lettuce, arrange the butternut, and sprinkle on the seeds. Drizzle over the dressing.
I arrange everything separately because I am a food stylist and this is how we roll.
Two highlights of this salad were the pickled butternut which tastes so different from cooked butternut but has the raw edge taken off, and the honey pumpkin seeds. These add a fabulous sweet and salty textural element to the dish and something I would make and use in other salads.
I didn’t like the red onion, I found it aggressive for this salad and would leave it out in the future, but this is a personal preference thing.
I feel like I’m part of the Tru-Cape family because last month I worked as the stylist on their latest two TV commercials, and I had to make a table full of food featuring apples and pears. It had to be farm-like and rustic and I had so much fun doing it.
Here they are: