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Poached Pear Salad with Arugula, Prosciutto and Parmesan

Poached Pear Salad with Arugula, Prosciutto and Parmesan
Ideal for delicate foods, poaching is a simple technique that involves cooking the ingredients in not-quite-simmering water or other seasoned liquid. The food becomes tender and moist and infused with the flavor of the poaching liquid. Here, we poach pears in our spiced poaching syrup, then transform the fruit into an elegant salad embellished with prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spiced poaching syrup*
  • 2 cups Pinot Grigio or other acidic white wine
  • 4 Bosc pears, each 5 to 6 oz., peeled, cored
     and halved
  • 2 Tbs. minced shallots
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 1⁄2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 1⁄2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 cups baby arugula
  • 1 1⁄2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thinly
     shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto

Directions:

In a 10-inch braiser, combine the poaching syrup and wine. Place the pear halves, cut sides down, in the pan; if desired, press a piece of parchment paper over the pears and spoon some of the poaching liquid on top to help keep the pears submerged. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife, 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a plate and let cool to room temperature. Reserve the poaching liquid for another use. Cut 2 of the pear halves into 6 slices each. Set the pear slices and remaining pear halves aside.

Put the shallots in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, 1 oz. of the cheese, the pear slices and the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Divide the salad among 6 plates, mounding it slightly off center. Garnish with the remaining cheese.

Wrap each of the remaining pear halves with a slice of prosciutto, draping it loosely like a shawl. Lean a pear half on the front of each mound of salad. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

* Available at Williams-Sonoma stores.