The Nashi pear, or as it is sometimes called the Asian pear, is a sweet and juicy fruit that is shaped like an apple and has the crispness of an apple; but the skin is grainy and speckled like a pear, and the texture and flavor are that of a pear. This wonderful fruit is now ripening in the Upper Galilee. It is perfect for eating as is but also lends itself beautifully to baking and cooking.
The Tel Aviv Sheraton’s Olive Leaf restaurant is hosting a special Nashi month, offering a menu of special gourmet dishes created by chef Charlie Fadida, all made with Nashi pears.
Here are a few of the dishes served during this month at the Olive Leaf.
NASHI AND PISTACHIO SALAD
✔ 3 Nashi pears, cored and sliced into 8 pieces ✔ 100 gr. arugula, washed and dried ✔ 50 gr. hearts of lettuce ✔ 30 gr. peeled roasted pistachio, finely ground For the dressing ✔ 20 ml. apple vinegar ✔ 15 ml. silan ✔ 40 ml. canola oil ✔ Pinch each salt and pepper In a jar, shake together the dressing ingredients until smooth. Dip the pear slices in the ground pistachio and place in a ring around the serving plate.
Mix the greens in another bowl.
Pour dressing on top and toss. Arrange the greens in the middle of the pear ring (see photo).
Garnish with sugared orange peel (see recipe below).
SUGARED ORANGE PEEL
✔ Juice of ½ orange ✔ Peel of 1 orange, only the orange part; remove the bitter white part ✔ 20 gr. sugar Slice the peel into very thin strips. Remove as much of the white part as you can.
Place sugar in a dry skillet. Add the orange peel and the juice. Cook until the syrup thickens.
Remove from heat and let cool.
CHICKEN CURRY WITH COCONUT AND NASHI TEMPURA
✔ 2 chicken breasts, cut into strips ✔ 4 Tbsp. canola oil ✔ 1 tsp. curry mix ✔ 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated ✔ 1 onion, chopped ✔ 1 garlic clove, minced ✔ ½ tin coconut milk ✔ ¼ cup white wine ✔ 1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped ✔ Salt and pepper For the tempura ✔ 2 Nashi pears, cored and cut into 8 pieces ✔ 1 cup cold water ✔ 2⁄3 cup self-raising flour ✔ 1⁄3 cup cornstarch ✔ 1 egg white, beaten ✔ 1 cup oil for frying Heat oil in a skillet. Brown the chicken until golden on all sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté onion until golden. Add garlic and ginger
and sauté 1 minute. Put the chicken back in the skillet, add the wine and cook until reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and season and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat, transfer to serving plates and garnish with cilantro.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the tempura: Pour 3⁄4 cup water into a bowl. Add the flour, cornstarch and beaten egg white. Stir gently until mixed.
Heat the oil until fragrant. Dip the pear slices in the batter and immediately place in the hot oil. Serve hot next to the chicken.
ROAST VEAL WITH NASHI AND ARUGULA
✔ 250 gr. veal fillet ✔ 2 Tbsp. canola oil ✔ ½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped ✔ ½ tsp. salt ✔ ½ tsp. pepper ✔ 2 Nashi pears, cored and very thinly sliced ✔ 150 gr. arugula ✔ 20 gr. mustard ✔ 40 gr. mayonnaise ✔ 10 gr. honey ✔ 2 tsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil Heat the oven to 180°.
Rub the veal with a little oil and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet. When it is very hot, sear the veal on all sides. Transfer to an oven-proof dish and place veal in the hot oven for 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Place in the refrigerator until chilled completely.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the chilled veal into very thin slices and arrange on serving plates.
Mix the mayonnaise, honey, mustard and a little salt until smooth and drizzle on the veal slices. In a separate bowl, toss the arugula with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and divide between the plates.
In the skillet used for the veal, sear the Nashi slices slightly and arrange on top of the arugula. Serve.
KADAIF AND NASHI DESSERT
✔ 4 Nashi pears, cored and peeled ✔ 50 gr. butter or margarine ✔ 1 Tbsp. brown sugar ✔ Pinch cinnamon ✔ 50 gr. kadaif noodles (available in most supermarkets and some bakeries) ✔ Butter-flavored oil spray For the dressing ✔ ½ cup orange juice ✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar ✔ ½ star of anise ✔ 1 tsp. orange zest Heat oven to 180°.
Slice the pears into ½-cm. slices Heat skillet with butter, add the Nashi slices, sugar and cinnamon and fry until golden.
Oil a 5-cm. baking ring (or individual baking dishes) using the cooking spray. Place the Nashi slices in the baking rings up to 4 cm. high. Spray the kadaif noodles and fill the rings with kadaif. Place the rings in the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until kadaif is golden in color.
To prepare the dressing: In the same skillet used for frying the Nashi, add orange juice, sugar, anise and zest. Heat and cook until liquid is reduced and sauce thickens.
To serve: Place the ring in the center of a serving plate (use a soup plate). Carefully remove the ring and pour the hot dressing around it. You may garnish with seasonal fruit.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Charlie Fadida, chef of the Olive Leaf restaurant. Kosher. Tel Aviv Sheraton Hotel, 115 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv, (03) 521-9300. Open daily 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Free parking for guests.