One of the perks of my work in local food is that I get a first hand experience of what grows best in the Midatlantic region.
Last year was the first time I had ever even heard of the Asian Pear. I mean, a pear is a pear, is a pear, right? Well, technically, no. I kept pushing for pears to go out in our CSA shares throughout the Autumn months. But week after week, no pears. Apparently, they don't grow well in our climate.
Finally, we found a farmer that had Asian Pears. I was slightly concerned about how local they really were, i mean, they are called Asian pears. But they are actually a wonderful late Summer, early Autumn fruit to grow in the Midatlantic. They are slightly heartier and easier to grow in the warmer and more humid climate.
Some say that Asian pears are suffering from an identity crisis. Asian pears are sometimes called “apple pears” because of their crisp apple-like texture and apple reminiscent flavor.
Asian pears also differ from pears in the way they ripen. While most pears take several weeks to ripen once harvested, Asian pears ripen on the tree (again, much like an apple).
For over 3,000 years, Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese cultures have been cultivating Asian pear varieties. The term Asian Pear is actually an umbrella term for over 1,000 varieties of pears in colors ranging from light yellows to green to caramel and each with a slightly different flavor.
We recently (well, ok, in mid-August - geez, time flies) got our hands on the first of the Asian Pear harvest from Saunders Brothers Orchard in Piney River, VA. They were absolutely magical. Imagine crispy sweetness that melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, they were so delicious that I never had a chance to make anything with them. They became a lunchtime staple, sliced into perfectly sectioned pieces by our apple corer.
Luckily, Asian Pears will be available long into the Summer and even Winter months since they store well in cold storage just like Apples. So keep your eyes peeled at the Farmer's Market and start experimenting with them now!
For the Salad
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 1 Asian pear, diced
- ¼ cup No 1 Sons Masala Beets
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
- Thinly sliced flank steak
For the Vinaigrette
(I usually make a ton of this house vinaigrette and store it for future use).
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp white wine vinegar (I have also switched out for rice vinegar on occasion)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Freshly ground salt + pepper to taste
Add lettuce, Asian pear and beets to a salad bowl, set aside. Mix all ingredients for vinaigrette in a glass mason jar for easy storage. Shake well before adding to salad ingredients. Add vinaigrette to your desired amount and toss (just don’t over dress the salad!). Sprinkle with goat cheese and top with strips of flank steak.