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Nashi, walnut and goat cheese salad

March 16, 2011

Nashi pears have just started coming in at my market and are a welcome addition to both the fruit bowl and the salad bowl. I bought some at the weekend thinking they’d be useful as part of a side dish for one of the dishes I was planning to make during the week.

As it happened, I decided to make the chicken adobo from Steven Raichlen’s Miami Spice fusion cookbook.

Elder son and his fiancée are staying with us for a short while as their new house nears completion. My kids have always had an abiding interest in the contents of my fridge and some nice goat cheese hadn’t gone unnoticed. It came to mind as I got ready to make my salad. Nashi for a bit of crispness, some canned white butter beans for texture and protein, a handful of chopped walnuts for crunch and flavour and some goat cheese for its lovely creaminess and gentle bite.

I have to say this isn’t the most beautiful of salads, with its monotones, but it could easily be tarted up with a sprinkling of soaked dried cranberries or a scattering of diced red pepper and a few fresh herb leaves.

I made a fairly routine vinaigrette but added some nuttiness with a teaspoon of toasted sesame seed oil and a couple of twists of black pepper.

Nashi pears, also known as Asian pears, are smooth and round and similar to an apple in size. They are grown in Australia and the first ones to arrive here were brought in the mid-1840s by Chinese during the goldrush days. I love it how so many migrants to a new land have brought their favourite plants and seeds with them. Just as well there were no border patrols in those days.

Nashi require little preparation other than removing the stalk and seeds. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are great with yoghurt and a little ceareal for a quick breakfast.

They go well with cheese and, make a welcome addition to a cheesebopard. Unlike apples, they don’t go brown once cut.

There are several varieties and the fruit is best value over the winter months.

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