A winter pear & fennel salad with creamy buttermilk dressing, honey candied walnuts, salty prosciutto, and homemade pecorino crisps. It’s the most delicious sweet and savory salad that’s bright and refreshing, with rich and savory bites throughout. Serve it as a side salad for a wintery dinner menu or eat it alongside a hot bowl of soup!
pear & fennel salad with buttermilk dressing – the details
You’ll start by making the buttermilk dressing. It’s a mix of greek yogurt for thickness, buttermilk for creamy tang, white wine vinegar for a punch of brightness, olive oil, garlic, and fresh oregano. It all gets simply whisked up in a mixing bowl and seasoned to taste.
I like to do this first because the garlic and oregano will infuse into the dressing as it sits. While the flavors meld, you can make the pecorino crisps. If you haven’t made these before (typically you’ll see them made with parmesan), you’ll absolutely love how easy the process is!
You essentially spread grated pecorino onto a sheet pan in a thin layer (it’s important that the granules of cheese are still in contact so that they melt together) and bake it until golden. The cheese crisps up and once cooled, you can break it apart into bite-sized pieces for a sharp, rich garnish. They’re so fun and once you make them once, you’ll want to add them to all of your salads!
Next up, the walnuts. I absolutely love the pairing of walnuts and pears, so it was a natural fit to use them for this pear & fennel salad. You’ll toast the walnuts until fragrant and then quickly “candy” them in a coating of honey.
They are simple, yet add the loveliest sweet crunch to this salad.
Once those three components are made, you’re ready to assemble the salad! I like to let the sliced fennel sit in half of the dressing for about 10 minutes in order to soften and marinate slightly. You’ll mound it onto a bed of arugula along with sweet winter pears and salty prosciutto…another fantastic flavor combination.
Drizzle the remaining dressing over top and then add your finishing touches – the pecorino crisps, honeyed walnuts, and a sprinkle of fresh oregano!
This salad makes for a wonderful side dish to any winter meal, or you can serve it alongside a cozy soup (maybe this tuscan ribollita soup) for the most delicious soup and salad combo.Print
Pear & Fennel Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
a winter pear & fennel salad with creamy buttermilk dressing, honey candied walnuts, salty prosciutto, and homemade pecorino crisps
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
Pear & Prosciutto Salad
- ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1 cup walnuts
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 fennel bulbs, cored + thinly sliced
- 4 oz arugula
- 2 pears, cored + thinly sliced
- 2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. For the dressing, combine the greek yogurt, buttermilk, white wine vinegar, olive oil, grated garlic, and chopped oregano in a mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Prepare a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Pour the pecorino cheese into the center of the pan. Spread the cheese into a thin, flat rectangle (with the granules of cheese still in contact). Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Let cool. Break the pecorino into pieces.
- Meanwhile, add the walnuts to a 10” skillet. Toast over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the honey and water. Raise the heat to medium and allow the honey to bubble. Stir well and simmer for a minute or so until foamy. Pour the walnuts onto a piece of parchment paper. Immediately season with a pinch of salt. Let cool.
- Combine the fennel and half of the dressing in a mixing bowl. Toss to coat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Arrange the arugula in a shallow serving bowl or on a platter. Arrange the fennel, pears, and prosciutto over top. Drizzle the remaining dressing. Garnish with the pecorino crisps, walnuts, oregano leaves, and more freshly cracked black pepper.