I guess I'm usually suspicious of nut and cheese salads. It doesn't take much for a salad to get out of hand—from fancy cheese to fruity vinaigrettes to imported glazed nuts. In my opinion, a tossed salad should always remain a simple affair resting on the quality and tastiness of the greens themselves. Often, you need nothing more than oil, acid, and salt.
Yet I've eaten this particular salad—loosely based on an old Jamie Oliver recipe—at least three times in the last week, thanks to a friend from Montreal who introduced me to the recipe. The essential green is arugula, which provides important pepperyness against the sweet pear, but to bulk out the arugula any good mesclun greens mix works. There's no need to mix a dressing, either; just add a few rounds of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, and a healthy pinch of salt. In go cashews, a sliced pear, and shavings of hard cheese like Parmesan or Piave.
- 2 Bosch pears, sliced thinly
- 5 ounces greens, a mixture of arugula and mesclun
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil, or to coat
- Shaved Parmesan or Piave cheese
- Handful unsalted cashews, crushed roughly
In a large salad bowl, add the greens. Pour a gentle stream of olive oil 3-4 times around the bowl, just enough to coat the sides well. Do the same with the lemon juice. Add a good pinch of salt for each person.
Add the pear slices, then toss the greens gently until evenly coated with the oil and the acid. Taste and adjust the oil/acid/salt ratio. Top with the cashews and shaved cheese. Finish with fresh black pepper.