Arugula, Pear and Pancetta Salad

A few simple ingredients come together in an unexpected way to create a delicate beginning for a luxurious dinner. A perfect dressing with nice contrasts between the cheese, pears and pancetta.

Makes 4 (first course) servings


For vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 dash of hazelnut oil (optional)

For salad
2 oz thinly sliced pancetta (4 to 5 slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 firm-ripe pears
4 cups baby arugula or torn larger arugula (1 1/4 lb)
3 oz ricotta salata, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler


Make vinaigrette:
Whisk together vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.

Make salad:
Cook pancetta in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning frequently, until just crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain (pancetta will crisp as it cools). Tear into bite-size pieces.

Halve pears lengthwise, core, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Add pears to dressing along with arugula, cheese, and pancetta, tossing to coat.