There are some pears and cheese left from Christmas, a couple of heads of crisp, hardy salad leaves still in fine fettle, and a plastic box of assorted sprouted seeds in the fridge. I put them together almost in desperation, yet what results is a salad that is both refreshing and uplifting, clean tasting and bright.
Crisp, mild, light, and fresh, this is the antidote to the big-flavored salad. I prefer to use hard, glassy-fleshed pears straight from the fridge for this, rather than the usual ripe ones. Any sprouts can be used, such as radish seeds, sunflower, or mung beans. The easy-to-find bags of mixed sprouts are good here, too. The cheese is up to you. Something with a deep, fruity flavor is probably best, though I have used firm goat cheese on occasion too. Rather than slicing it thickly, I remove shavings from the cheese with a vegetable peeler. A sort of contemporary ploughman's lunch.
For the dressing:
Put the yogurt in a bowl and whisk in the olive oil and a little salt and black pepper. Chop the herbs and stir them into the yogurt.
Halve the pears, remove the cores, and slice the pears thinly, then add them to the herb and yogurt dressing.
Put the salad leaves in a serving dish. Pile the pears and their dressing on top. Using a vegetable peeler, shave off small, thin slices of the cheese and scatter them over the salad with the assorted sprouts.
From Notes from the Larder: A Kitchen Diary with Recipes, by Nigel Slater.
Harold McGee, the author of Keys to Good Cooking, is an expert on the chemistry behind food and cooking. McGee recently made his first trip to China, where he learned more about rice wine.