Saturday, January 7, 2012

Asian Pear, Almond and Farro Salad with Sesame Sichuan Pepper Dressing

At Christmas, we received a lovely gift of gorgeous Asian Pears.  Other than peeling and eating as is, I was looking for a fun way to incorporate them into a dish.  It's been such a mild winter, we figured we might as well keep grilling. After perusing Matt's new grill cookbook, we settled on grilling Sichuan-spiced loin lamb chops (we have amazing local lamb in our freezer, having shared a whole lamb with my mom this fall).  Needing a side dish for the chops, I put together this salad, which is tangy, sweet, savory, and refreshing all at once.  Definitely be sure to use canola or another neutral oil in addition to the sesame oil in the dressing.  Sesame oil is so potent if you use all sesame, you won't taste anything else.  Sichuan pepper isn't a pepper at all, but the husk of a teensy tiny fruit.  Buy it whole and grind it yourself, its aroma dissipates quickly.  If you don't have any, you can use fresh ground black pepper or Aleppo pepper, which will alter the flavor a bit, but still be tasty.  I buy slivered almonds already toasted from Trader Joe's, and keep them in the freezer to prevent them going rancid.  They warm up within about 5 minutes, and make a great crunchy addition to the salad.  Don't combine the sriracha with the dressing ingredients, or it will over power it.  Stir in the sriracha at the end.  The amount does not make the salad too spicy, but if spicy isn't an option for your family, you may want to grate some garlic into the dressing and add a squeeze of lime juice to perk up the dish.

This will serve 2-4 people as a side dish.


  • 1 cup dry farro
  • 1 asian pear, peeled and cored, 1/4" dice
  • 1 small stalk celery, thinly sliced, and a few celery heart leaves, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 TBS champagne vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 3 TBS canola oil
  • 1/2 TBS grated shallot
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 1/2 tsp sriracha or other chili-garlic sauce
  • Cook farro as per package instructions (pearled and semi-pearled varieties cook faster), drain and let cool for a few minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oils, shallot, honey, Sichuan pepper and salt and whisk until emulsified.
  • Combine farro, asian pear, celery, scallions and almonds in a large bowl and toss together with dressing.
  • Stir in sriracha and serve.

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