It might have been a croissant in Paris that convinced Chef Maggie Trujillo to don the white jacket and sharpen her knives, but it was the pear in Washington state that inspired this seasonal recipe. Simple ingredients and easy-to-learn cheffing techniques — a philosophy for Trujillo, the executive chef at Seattle’s Aerlume restaurant — go into this salad with pear, kale, bacon and Manchego cheese in a creamy mint yogurt dressing.
“This dish highlights pears or apples when they are at their peak crispness and freshness,” she says. “We pair with local kale and honey and heartier ingredients like cheese and bacon.”
Particularly during harvest time, Aerlume’s menu is driven by seasonal produce from local farms and is showcased in this plating. “Our veggie-centric approach gives fruits and vegetables star roles on the plates with the meat, seafood, grains [and[ dairy playing supporting roles,” Trujillo adds.
The sprawling, open restaurant itself features scenic views of Seattle’s drastically changing waterfront and pier, while abutting the world-famous Pike Place Market — one of the country’s busiest hubs for fresh, seasonal goods.
With the recipe centered on ripe and beautifully ribboned pears, Trujillo pairs the dish with another Seattle-area local: the perry from Dragon Head Cider on Vashon Island, one of the islets sitting across the water from the restaurant.
“I love that Dragon’s Head perry uses seedling pears local to Vashon Island,” the chef says. “The crisp, clean, dry profile of this [sip] is an ideal accompaniment to our pear salad. The slight acidity balances with the bacon and Manchego. The honey and creamy dressing are complemented by the floral notes of the perry.”
Pear Salad with Creamy Mint Yogurt Dressing
½ cup mint
½ cup basil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra to drizzle
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups plain Greek yogurt
4 ripe but firm pears
Baby kale and tender greens
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
½ cup shaved Manchego
½ cup pistachio
For the dressing, chiffonade the herbs then combine with herbs, shallot, honey, lemon zest and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse. Remove from the processor and put in a bowl, then whisk in yogurt, olive oil and salt.
For the salad, use a vegetable sheet cutter to make pear ribbons, or thinly slice them. Toss the greens with dressing and add a pinch of salt. Place the dressed greens on desired plate or bowl, adding the pear ribbons to the bed of greens. Top each plate with shaved Manchego, toasted pistachios, bacon and drizzled honey.