It’s hard to talk about a salad. The leaves will inevitably wilt by the time I can think of something clever to say. Sometimes, their simplicity is betrayed by a lengthy narrative. I can only talk about a salad by how it found me.
This salad found me by way of a random recipe – or rather, a suggestion of a recipe I saw online, a glimpse of potential that manifested in a complex and comforting wintry dish: chunks of pistachios and honeyed dates with crisp watercress support a warm and gingery mix of pears and parsnip. I think it’s a contender for my Christmas dinner.
I’m currently obsessing over watercress. There were some bags of baby kale at Whole Foods the last time I was there but I hesitated to buy it because the bag would require me to eat nothing but kale salads for the remainder of the week. I’m kind of a flimsy salad devotee. For me, a salad necessitates some warm soup, or crusty bread, or a heavy pasta. Or all of the above. God forbid someone serves me iceberg lettuce.
One day I’m going to enjoy eating iceberg lettuce again but I think I am too underwhelmed with my history of terrible salad bars and equally depressing “house” salads.
Ginger Pear and Parsnip Salad
2 small parsnips, cut into strips
1 small pear, sliced thinly
1 ts finely grated ginger, I used my trusty Microplane
1 TB olive oil
1 bunch of watercress
2 ts chopped pistaschios
4 dates, deseeded and chopped
3 ts olive oil
1 ts sherry vinegar
Salt & Pepper
+ Mix oil and vinegar in advance.
+Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown the parsnip with 1/2 of the grated ginger until they are tender to the fork. Remove the parsnip from the skillet and repeat with the pears. Do not overcook, unless you like your fruit soft. I prefer them a bit on the crisp side so I cooked it on medium heat for only about 3 minutes. Place the parsnip back into the pan to keep them warm while you mix your salad.
+Toss the watercress, pistachios, and dates in dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Put warm parsnip and pear on top and serve immediately.