Recipe: Welcome Autumn with Pear, Kale, and Sorrel Salad
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the new cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook having achieved top-seller status, Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works: Meals from the Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter), due out in 2014.
Recently, I came into the small fortune of 20 perfect seckle pears. Those pears were so beautiful, we almost missed their ripeness because we were so busy admiring them. The first one spouted a few tragic snowflakes of delicate mold, and then it became clear that we had 24 hours to eat the rest of them. We did it. We rose to the challenge, and at any given moment of that day (and into the night), there was a pear attached to someone’s face. There was juice running down arms, and there were pears in everything.
And so we found this happy combination, well-timed, I think, as we were waiting patiently for our first killing frost. Waiting, waiting, until the plants, and more importantly, the weeds, would wither and keel over, and the site of them would stop making me feel… well, I’ll just come out and say it, like a failure.
There were successes in the garden that year. A proud number of green zebra tomatoes. Three crimson lee peppers. Very happy Jerusalem artichokes (always happy, of course). Enough tomatillos for a damn fine bowl of salsa. Six stalks of Brussels sprouts. And four vigorous kale plants that had more sweetness ahead of them when the frost arrived.
Pear, Kale, and Sorrel Salad
1 small bunch curly kale
2 seckel pears (or 1 larger pear)
6 leaves sorrel (You can leave these out if you don’t have them, but they add a delicious tang to the whole dish)
juice of 1 lemon
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Tear the kale off the stem, and chop it finely. Do the same with the sorrel. Cut the pear into 1/2-inch slices and toss with the greens. Squeeze a lemon directly over the whole thing. Then spoon the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Finish off with the toasted almonds and Parmesan. This will serve four as a side dish, or you alone if you bring it out to the back yard to watch the sun set as you reflect on the beauty of things. —Alana Chernila