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Author Notes: Coquette Cafe in MKE has a wonderful green salad with buttermilk and hazelnuts. I tried to recreate a version at home with the addition of tarragon and shallots in the dressing, sliced red pears beneath, and crunchy pink sea salt on top (this may be my favorite part). —Jennifer Ann
Food52 Review: What's great about this salad is that it combines the robust flavors of fall -- pears and hazelnuts -- with an elegant salad green -- Boston lettuce -- and a succinct and tangy buttermilk dressing. So when you eat it, there are rich bits followed by bright bits and flashes of sweetness, and the whole thing is a delight to eat. Use two small heads of lettuce and small pears. - A&M —The Editors
Fresh Tarragon Buttermilk Dressing
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1.5 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1.5 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- freshly ground black pepper (4-5 turns on the mill - finest setting)
- salt (3-4 turns on the mill - finest setting)
- Whisk together buttermilk and mayonnaise until smooth; whisk in olive oil until well incorporated; add shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper.
Hazelnut Preparation and Salad Assembly
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 3 red pears
- 2 heads of Boston lettuce, washed and torn into medium-large sized pieces
- coarse pink or red sea salt (such as Alaea Hawaiian)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Roast hazelnuts in a single layer in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes, or until they start to lightly brown; remove from oven, and roll hazelnuts in dish towel to remove the papery skins; allow hazelnuts to cool, then coarsely chop and set aside
- Thinly slice the pears, being sure to keep a good sliver of the red peel on each slice; arrange the pears in a single layer on 4 salad plates, with the peel edges facing outward
- Toss the lettuce in about half the dressing, adding more, as necessary, to nicely coat all pieces; pile the lettuce in a tall mound on top of the pears (be sure to keep the red pear peals visible)
- Top each salad with freshly ground pepper, a small handful of the toasted hazelnuts, and a little pinch of the crunchy sea salt.
- Your Best Autumn Salad Contest Finalist!