I love this time of year. There’s something kind of sparklingly magical about it. The crackly edge in the air, the threat of those long winter nights as the evenings lose their light earlier. It’s brisk. A little wild. But then it’s tempered by blithe, warm days when it feels like all is right in the world. And I think this in-between place that flirts with both summer and winter is reflected equally in the produce available now.
There are the last of the plums and tomatoes crashing up against delicata and butternut and hubbard squash. There are all manner of peppers on the scene still; apples seem to be peaking already, and pears are close on their tails. And pomegranates, what? I don’t think that I’ve ever seen pomegranates arrive so early. So it goes.
Anyhow, it’s a rare moment. We get the best of both. I had some grand visions for this salad. There were going to be figs, too, and pomegranate, and more nuts and seeds – kind of in homage to the volume of things available right now. This grand harvest season. But I toned it down. Point is, let this in-between be an opportunity to mix it up. Apples and peppers, why not? Or pears and plums and pluots. Or figs and tomatoes. It’s a rare window we’ve got right now.
A SALAD OF SAUTÉED PEARS AND PLUMS
1 firm red pear, such as a Red Krimson, cored and thinly sliced
2 plums or pluots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking
2 tablespoons good Balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, pressed or minced
6-8 cups arugula
Generous pinch of sea salt
Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add a little oil. Sauté the pears for about 2-3 minutes per side, until they’re a little soft, a little brown at the edges, but still holding their shape. Set aside. Repeat with the plums or pluots.
While the fruit cooks, toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often to keep from burning, about 3-5 minutes.
Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the arugula with the dressing. Top the greens with the seeds and the fruit. Season to taste. Serve immediately.
A few last images from summer: