Alexander Smalls’ Field Greens, Poached Pear, and Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

published Nov 3, 2021
Field Greens, Poached Pear, and Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe

Featuring poached pears, black-eyed peas, and a citrus vinaigrette, this versatile salad is bursting with flavor.

Serves8

Prep20 minutes

Cook40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Bowl of salad with greens, tomatoes, poached pears on thanksgiving table. Dressing next to it with small spoon
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Stephanie Yeh

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As a boy, my father came home one day with a baby pear tree and planted it in our backyard. Watching that tree grow was an exciting proposition to a child. I will never forget the first buds, and later the tiny fruits that began to grow. First there were only a few, but each year there were more. Over the years, the tree grew like a large wishbone switch. My father loved that tree and would use its fruit to make everything from pear preserves to canned pears, which he would put in large Mason jars and pass out proudly to friends and family. One year, he and my grandfather made pear brandy: Their version of Calvados, no doubt.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Stephanie Yeh

When I opened my first restaurant, I served this salad, a way of honoring my father and his pears. This is a truly versatile salad that can easily go from appetizer to full meal. The beans give it generous protein, and the sweet, savory dressing brings it all together. Not to mention the perfect drunken pear. You could most certainly simply cut up fresh pears, but poaching them adds extra flavor, texture, and elegance.

Field Greens, Poached Pear, and Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe

Featuring poached pears, black-eyed peas, and a citrus vinaigrette, this versatile salad is bursting with flavor.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 4

    ripe but firm Bosc pears (about 6 ounces each)

  • 2 cups

    dry red wine

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 2

    (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

  • 2

    star anise pods

  • 2 1/2 cups

    cooked black-eyed peas, or 2 (about 15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas

  • 10 ounces

    grape tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1

    small red onion (about 4 ounces)

  • 3

    Persian cucumbers

  • 12 ounces

    mixed salad greens

For the citrus vinaigrette:

  • 1/4

    small shallot

  • 1/4 cup

    champagne vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons

    mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cracked black pepper

  • 3/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Poach the pears:

  1. Peel, halve, and core 4 Bosc pears. Place in a medium saucepan and add 2 cups dry red wine, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup water, 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, and 2 star anise pods. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

  2. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pears are tender but not mushy, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and let the pears cool to room temperature in the poaching liquid, about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (This is a good time to make the vinaigrette.)

Make the vinaigrette:

  1. Mince 1/4 small shallot until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons. Place in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch each of salt and cracked black pepper. Pulse until smooth, about 30 seconds.

  2. With the motor running, add 3/4 cup extra-virgin oil in a thin stream and process until emulsified. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Assemble the salad:

  1. Transfer the pears from the poaching liquid to a cutting board. Cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Reserve the poaching liquid for another use. If using canned black-eyed peas, drain and rinse 2 cans.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Halve 10 ounces grape tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups). Halve and thinly slice 1 small red onion. Thinly slice 3 Persian cucumbers into rounds.

  3. Add 12 ounces mixed greens to the salad and toss to combine. Add the black-eyed peas and the vinaigrette and toss to combine.

  4. Divide the salad among 8 chilled plates. Garnish with the poached pears and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: A late-night tip: I would often make this salad before going out and leave it undressed. Then when I returned home late at night with friends, I’d toss it with the dressing. It’s a perfect light-but-filling late-night meal.

The poached pears and vinaigrette can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in separate airtight containers.

From Meals, Music, and Muses by Alexander Smalls. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of Flatiron Books.