1 lb. arugula, coarse stems discarded
4 ripe pears
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 shallots, finely minced
1 tbsp. finely chopped tarragon
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 tbsp. chopped candied walnuts (recipe follows)
Wedge of Parmesan cheese
5 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
2 cups walnut halves
2 cups sugar
Salt, to taste
For salad:To wash arugula, place leaves in a large bowl of cold water. Agitate leaves and then let them sit; any dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Gently lift arugula from the water and transfer to a salad spinner. Spin arugula dry and set aside to chill.
Cut each pear into quarters, removing any core. Cut each quarter into 3 equal slices. Toss pear slices with 1 tbsp. lemon juice and lay pear slices out in a circular pattern onto the plates.
Combine arugula, shallots and herbs in a mixing bowl. Toss with enough lemon juice and olive oil to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place a mound of arugula in the center of each plate.
Sprinkle candied walnuts over each salad. Use a peeler to shave a few strips of Parmesan cheese over the salads. Drizzle a ring of vinegar around the base of each salad.
For candied walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain walnuts and rinse under warm water. This blanching process will remove any tannic residue that would render the nuts bitter. Strain walnuts and place in a mixing bowl.
In a medium pot, combine 1 cup water with 2 cups sugar. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove sugar syrup from heat. Lightly coat walnuts with a small amount of syrup. Place nuts on a sheet pan fitted with a rack and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove nuts from the oven and allow to cool. Place nuts back in the bowl and once again toss with a light coating of syrup. Place nuts back on the sheet pan with the rack and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes more, rotating the pan every few minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and lightly sprinkle walnuts with salt. The nuts should appear glossy, without sugar crystals. Allow nuts to cool completely. Makes 2 cups. Store covered for 1 to 2 weeks.