Salad of Pears & Spiced Nuts in a Parmesan Crisp
The spiced nuts make make more than what is needed for this salad because it’s hard to go with less than one egg white. The extras can be stored in an airtight container for future salads or just general snacking. The Parmesan crisps can be made earlier in the day and stored in an air-tight storage container to keep them from absorbing moisture from humidity in the air.
Yield: 4 servings
¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups walnut halves or pieces
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons Tarragon Vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ medium shallot, finely minced
¼ cup olive oil (regular or extra-virgin)
1 quart mixed salad greens
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 pear or Asian pear, thinly sliced or cut into julienne strips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. If using foil, spray the foil with non-stick spray. Scatter the Parmesan cheese in a circular shape about 6-inches in diameter, making sure the cheese is evenly distributed and there are no gaping holes. Sprinkle black pepper over the cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is a light golden brown. Remove from oven and using a metal spatula, lift cheese discs off the baking sheet and mold over the back of a ramekin or 3” bowl that has been turned upside-down. Repeat the process to make two more.
Whip the egg white with the salt until it becomes frothy. Combine the sugar and spices and begin adding the sugar mixture, a little at a time and continue whipping until the mixture becomes very stiff. Fold the nuts into the egg whites, coating completely. Spread nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and separate out as much as possible. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. This will make more than needed for the salad but remaining nuts can be kept in an airtight container for future use or snacking.
Combine the honey, vinegar, salt, pepper, and shallots in a large salad bowl. Whisk to dissolve the honey. While whisking vigorously from side-to-side, slowly drizzle the olive oil in a steady thin stream in the center of the whisking action to help emulsify the oil and vinegar mixture. Taste and adjust as necessary with more salt and pepper. Add the salad greens, red onion, sliced pears, and a quarter of the nuts.
Place the Parmesan crisps upright on salad plates and plate the salad inside the cheese basket. Sprinkle a few more nuts over the top of the salad. Reserve remaining nuts for future use.