We had a streak (ok 2 days) of cooler weather here in Charleston and I started longing for autumn, crisp evenings, and warm fragrant spices. After living in Charleston for over 13 years, the only way I can experience autumn as I did in the Midwest or Northeast is by traveling or eating fall inspired dishes. Since Covid has limited everyone’s travel, it’s autumn inspired food for the win today!
My latest culinary venture has revolved around Asian pears, specifically the Hosui Japanese variety. This type is shaped more like an apple and has a russet brown exterior skin. Hosui pears are exceptionally juicy and their name in Japanese means sweet water. Asian pears have been cultivated for over 3000 years in Japan and China and made their way to North America in the early 1800s. These delectable fruits gained a major foothold on the west coast during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s. Despite their long history, the Hosui variety is a relatively new type. It was developed in Japan in 1972 at a research facility that crossed hiratsuka and kosui pears. I am thankful to whomever was on duty in the lab that day, as these pears are delicious!
In today’s dish, the sweetness of the pears is balanced by the addition of some hot haberno pepper infused honey while roasting the pears, parsnips, and pecans. I also added the honey to the vinaigrette with some fresh sage and lemon to enhance the flavor of the parsnips and pears. Crunchy toasted Georgia pecans and popped whole grain sorghum provide a wonderful crunch to round out the textures. If you can grab a few pears and parsnips at your local farmer’s market this is an easy, elegant salad perfect for a weeknight healthy meal or as a wonderful addition to your next dinner party.
Hot Honey Sage Vinaigrette with Roasted Pears, Parsnips, & Pecans
Hot Honey Sage Vinaigrette
- 1 tbsp hot honey (I use haberno infused honey)
- 1 tbsp regular honey
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar
- 1 lemon juiced
- salt to taste
Pear Parsnip Pecan Salad
- 3 Asian Pears sliced
- 2 tbsp hot honey
- 5 small parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1/4 cup dry sorghum
- 1 tsp oil
- Mixed greens of choice for salad base
Hot Honey Sage Vinaigrette
- Combine water, 1 tbsp hot honey, 1 tbsp of regular honey and fresh sage leaves in a small saucepan.
- Heat over medium until simmering. Cook 15 minutes at a very low simmer. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- Add honey sage mixture to a blender with the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Process until smooth. Set aside.
Roasted Pears, Parsnips and Pecans
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toast pecans on a baking sheet lined with silicone or parchment 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with 2 tsp of hot honey. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes to finish toasting until golden brown. Keep a close eye of pecans as they can burn quickly.
- Toss prepared pears and parsnips with the remaining 4 tsp of hot honey. Roast in oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add dry sorghum. Toast until most of the sorghum has popped into what looks like mini popcorn. Remove from heat.
- Toss with mixed greens with half of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste. Add toasted pecans, pears, and parsnips and toss again. Top each salad with toasted sorghum before serving.