Last week was Restaurant Week in Boston, and you can rest assured that John and I took full advantage of the 3 course prix fixe menus offered throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. The first on our list was Rialto, a regional Italian-themed restaurant nestled into the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square.
The meal overall was pretty good – but my first course selection was stellar! The salad consisted of tender fresh greens, sweet chewy dates, salty parmesan cheese, and a rich maple dressing. After relishing in the delicious combination of flavors and textures, I chastised myself for not coming up with something similar on my own. Clearly, I had to recreate this masterpiece at home.
As I was gathering together the necessary ingredients, a bowlful of beautiful ripe pears on the counter caught my eye, and inspiration struck; I knew they would make the salad not only even tastier, but more filling as well.
Medjool dates, how I love thee! Plump, chewy, and unbelievably naturally sweet – medjool dates are one of my favorite foods. Why have I not been adding them to salads? I will be from now on.
After slicing the pears and chopping the dates, I whipped up a simple vinaigrette consisting of olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and mustard. This is one of my go-to homemade salad dressings, but I play around with the ratios depending on what type of salad I’m making. I went a bit heavy on the maple syrup for this particular dressing, as this salad is meant to be a sweet one.
The shavings of parmesan cheese provide the perfect salty flavor counterpoint to the sweet maple syrup, dates, and pears; and I love the aesthetic value they give to the salad.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention the base of the salad, which is my newest edible obsession: arugula. The peppery bite adds so much flavor to salads. If you’re not a fan, you can sub in baby spinach or romaine lettuce; but I urge you to give arugula a try.
Pear Arugula Salad with Dates and Parmesan
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp coarse ground mustard (or Dijon)
- 4 cups arugula, washed and dried, preferably organic
- 4 large soft Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 ripe but firm pear (I used Anjou), cored and thinly sliced
- a few shavings of fresh parmesan cheese
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and mustard until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Toss the arugula with the dressing. Gently toss in the chopped dates and sliced pears. Garnish with parmesan shavings.