Food You Can Eat: Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

Honestly, anytime you roast a fruit and serve it with a cheese over a bed of greens is an occasion to celebrate.

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, [& etc.]"

Like any good New York Times recipe this one is a little fussy. But if you, like me, were roped into joining your building’s book club and you were constantly criticized about the “difficulty” of your selections and it descended into a competitive dining club, this will shut them up when it’s your turn to host and your selection is discussed and the first member, over their second glass of the pre-dinner wine that you selected especially for the occasion, utters those immortal words, “But I didn’t like the characters!” Philistines, all of them. Start the meal off with this. As they take their first delicious mouthful remind them that Madame Bovary is not a likable character but there’s a reason it’s taught to this day generally (is it? The book club members were all of a certain age) and something along the lines of The Happy Adventures of the Happy Members of the Happy Family in Happy Valley is not. I was accused (pretty much at every meeting) of literary snobbery. Me?


Yield: 4 servings

For the Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon well-aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Dash of fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons pumpkinseed oil
1 tablespoon canola oil

For the Salad

4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
Olive oil spray
1 pound mesclun, rinsed and dried
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
½ cup toasted pumpkinseeds
1 tablespoon pumpkinseed oil


Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegars with the salt and pepper in a salad bowl. Slowly whisk in the pumpkinseed oil and then the canola oil. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Step 2
Place pears in a roasting pan that has been lightly sprayed with oil. Lightly spray the pears, and roast for 40 minutes, or until golden and nearly soft. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.

Step 3
To assemble the salad, place the pear quarters in the center of each of four plates. Toss the mesclun with the vinaigrette; then, add the goat cheese in small pinches and toss carefully. Surround the pears with the goat cheese salad. Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds over the arrangement. Drizzle 1 tablespoon pumpkinseed oil over the pears, and serve.



  1. Like any good New York Times recipe this one is a little fussy.

    Followed by

    1 teaspoon well-aged balsamic vinegar2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

    2 tablespoons pumpkinseed oil1 tablespoon canola oil

    Yeah, I can imagine the poor literalists following this recipe to a T who still have bottles of sherry vinegar and pumpkinseed oil in the backs of their cupboards, still 96% full.

    And after searching, the recipe comes with this comment

    I couldn’t find pumpkin seed oil so I used walnut, which I was afraid might overwhelm the toasted seeds….

    For the love of Hades, you’re not running a nuclear reactor. Like the subheadline says, ANYTIME YOU ROAST A FRUIT AND SERVE IT WITH A CHEESE OVER A BED OF GREENS IS AN OCCASION TO CELEBRATE

    • Exactly. This is why God, in the earthly form of Paul Newman, created a line of salad dressings that work just fine. [My inner Jesuit Grand Inquisitor: “Did you just write what I think you wrote DURING LENT?”]

      When I was growing up we almost never had salad, oddly enough. The vegetable was inevitably either peas, carrots, or a combo. But when we did, we had Seven Seas salad dressing. A quick google search reveals that Seven Seas seems to make only one variety now, Green Goddess. I’ve discussed the Green Goddess salad before: it is another name for the much-derided Watergate salad, which is very niche, and why Kraft is keeping the brand going just to serve the needs of Green Goddess salad lovers is beyond me.

    • For all I know you do.

      When we first moved in the building was new and we were all, therefore, new to each other, and incredibly sociable. Of the six people in that book club three were on the Board (out of five) and the other three (that was where I came in) were involved in running the roof, procuring and tending to the plantings, staging fundraising parties, etc. The roof was like the Lido deck of the Love Boat and on any random weeknight, and certainly on weekends, you could wander up there and find merriment among your neighbors. Then, over time, many of the original “pioneers” moved away, the new Board(s) went in a very authoritarian direction (people were having too much fun so rules started sprouting like ragweed), and there was this obsession with not spending any money. The newcomers to the building didn’t seem particularly interested in even introducing themselves, let alone socializing; this is very common in NYC apartment buildings. The apartment across the hall from me turns over every year and I have yet to meet the latest tenants, let alone invite them over for a roasted pear and goat cheese salad. Then COVID hit and the Board seized their chance to turn every resident into what they are: they enter the building, they say hello to no one, they go to their apartments, and it’s lights out at 8 pm. I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The roof, which is open air, obviously, was completely shut down, even if you pinkie-sweared to wear a mask and stay six feet apart from anyone else, which is easy to do since it takes up about 80% of the footprint of the building. And it never bounced back. If I return to the building after a lunchtime stroll with the Faithful Hound and there’s someone in the lobby 9 times out of 10 I couldn’t tell you if they live here or are just visiting.

      It’s very sad. I used to rave about my building, how much fun it was, especially for someone who works/”works” from home. I’d have people over for dinner and if it was a nice night I’d take them up to the roof afterward to admire the skyline and there’d always be a crowd, so I’d introduce people around…

      Oh well, tempus fugit.

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