Pear, Apple and Fennel Salad and More Holiday Cookies

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving came and went in a blink of an eye. ‘What comes next?”, asked J. who can only tell time by the order in which holidays are approaching. I really wanted to tell him to enjoy the moment, to savor every second he has because time will fly soon enough. But again, I remember my own anxiety with time when I was a child. Soon was never soon enough.

We cooked, we ate and we enjoyed each others company this weekend. Thanksgiving morning we took the kids to the park. It was a beautiful morning and the streets were deserted. We had the park all to ourselves. “Let’s really enjoy dinner” I told C.

It is easy for me to feel rushed at the dinner table with small children, especially when is just us. Just us might make it seem less important sometimes, but I was determined to sit down, enjoy and have a long conversation with my family, just like we used to do growing up. And so we did and it is the special moment I took away with me this weekend.

I spent Saturday morning baking cupcakes and more holiday cookies. C. asked to make his favorite pistachio sandies. Crumbly and soft, covered in melting powdered sugar. One of my all time favorites as well. I took some cupcakes to my friend Lena’s house in exchange of some fresh greens from her garden.

Lunch was simple. I craved simple after all the heavy cooking and eating of the previous days. Thinly sliced apples, forelle pears and fennel with a simple apple cider vinaigrette inspired by Donna Hay’s towering salads.

And so let the holiday baking continue…

Pear, Apple and Fennel Salad

makes 4 servings

2 honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced
4 forelle pears, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh watercress
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, combine water and the juice of 1 lemon. Thinly slice the apples, per and fennel and place the slices in the water immediately after to avoid oxidation. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Stack the sliced vegetables and garnish with watercress leaves. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle the vinaigrette on top.

Pistachio Sandies

makes 2 dozen 1″ ball cookies

4 oz (115 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (45 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (110 grams) superfine brown rice flour
2 Tbs (20 grams) tapioca starch
1/4 cup (40 grams) pistachios, chopped
pinch of salt
powdered sugar, for rolling

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together for a minute or so. Add the vanilla extract. Add the flour, tapioca starch, salt and chopped pistachios. Mix until the dough comes together.

using a 1″ ice cream scoop, scopp out the dough forming little balls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1″ apart.

Bake at 350F for about 15-18 minutes until bottom lightly golden and when touched, they don’t fall apart. Let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Roll them in powdered sugar while still warm.

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80 Responses to “Pear, Apple and Fennel Salad and More Holiday Cookies”

  1. Itxaso says:

    Ahh, polite idatziozune, batez be dana astiroago eta pazientziegaz iteko dekozun gogoagaitik. Ondo segidu!

  2. The apple pear salad looks delicious. I’m a raw foodie, so this is something I must try! As usual, beautiful photo design : )

  3. alice says:

    Simple yet so delicious. We eat this combination all the time and are always amazed by how effective and tasty it is.

  4. I like these towering salads – they are really beautiful. I admire your philosophy of spending time at the table with the children. It’s so easy to eat and run.

  5. koralee says:

    So amazingly yummy looking…thanks again. xoxoox Happy Monday

  6. Shuku says:

    These look so good. As it happens, I have some pears, but no fennel. Hmm. Maybe I’ll pick up some apples tomorrow and a little bit of celery since fennel is very hard to come by here. With cheese it ought to work just fine too!

  7. caroline says:

    I’m on a salad kick this week– I’ve already made a Turkish carrot salad, and plan on making celery and walnut, beet and goat cheese, and celeriac and apple. I might just have to finish the week with this one!

  8. That salad is absolutely gorgeous! I bet the holidays in your home is the most wonderful thing- no wonder your child is so excited.

  9. Miryam says:

    Wow this salad looks amazing. I love the fruit combination. I think I might make something similar and add some nuts, and cheese. Superb pictures, madre mia que artista :-)

  10. Stunning photos as always. Your recipes sound delicious. I can only imagine what the holidays look and taste like at your house.

  11. that salad looks scrumptious, not to mention gorgeous. i want to bake a batch of those pistachio sandies, yum!

  12. Kimberley says:

    I’m very much looking forward to making some of your gluten-free cookies for the holidays. Inspiring post, as always!

  13. angie says:

    the salad looks so pretty. i want to try making it now!

    thanks for sharing. :-)

  14. The pear and fennel salad looks like such a lovely way to help any lingering thanksgiving ailments (or edibles) easily digest. Beautiful as always …

  15. beautiful aran as always. i have been craving good cookies such as these.

  16. I have an amazing blog. So far I love it. The pictures are gorgeous and I love your recipes
    Simon Debì

  17. This is wonderful. I always forget how tasty are salads made with apples. And this fennel and pear combination seems delicious. Have to remember this!

  18. Iratxe says:

    ¡Precioso Aran, qué delicadeza!. Imagino la combinación de texturas y sabores de la ensalada… ¡Oooh!.

  19. Susan says:

    This salad looks so beautiful and satisfying to the taste. I like the sculpture appeal of its presentation.

  20. Anja says:

    It all looks so delicious! And I love the cup with the red pattern :-)

  21. Stephanie says:

    Wonderful presentation on that salad (nice combo with the fennel too!).

  22. I’ve never seen such a divine salad presentation…it is divine indeed! And the cookies… they have been our family’s favorite since I was a child… aren’t they just dreamy?

  23. Wonderful presentation & photography. You’ve made this cool little idea look so enormously appealing, love it.

  24. Leah says:

    This salad looks beautiful – so fresh and light.

  25. Sounds like you had a beautiful Thanksgiving. I love those pistachio sandies but can you replace the tapioca starch at all?

  26. Liana- you really need some starch there so cornstarch or even potato starch would work. Give it a try.

    Thanks everyone!

  27. Wow, I love fennel salad, but this was new for me:) Thank’s for inspiration!


  28. Mónica says:

    Humm… que rico! y las fotos están espectaculares!

  29. Ilke says:

    If somebody was baking all of these in my house, I would be eating salad non-stop to compensate the calories. Because you can not Not have these cookies for sake of reducing calories…:)

  30. Lourdes says:

    This looks so delicious! I must try it. Thanks!
    Love your blog, btw.
    Please feel free to stop by my blog if you have a moment. Thanks!

  31. Sini says:

    Beautiful as always. This weekend will be full of christmas baking and I really can’t resist your pistachio sandies (and there will be chocolate crinkles too!).

    I will definitely try to find the brown rice flour and tapioca starch but do you have a recommendation how I could substitute them if I don’t find those 2 ingredients? The tapioca starch surely with cornstarch but the brown rice flour? It’s always hard when you don’t know about the characteristics of some ingredients…

  32. What a simple salad – what a nice presentation!!

  33. Hello Aran, is my great honor to tell you today that you are “on air” on my blog! ;)

    A big kiss,

  34. Had I left my desk moments ago, I would not have found your blog. Your non-linear journey, exquisite photography brought tears of joy to my eyes this morning. What a gift you have, a gift, in many, many ways, for me this morning. Thank you ~ xox Alexandra

  35. Sini- yes use cornstarch instead of tapioca and then you can use rice flour instead of the brown rice flour. You could also add some sorghum, but not all.

    Coco- my goodness, thank you!

    Thanks all!

  36. Absolutely lovely.

    I love towering salads – they are so beautiful as well as tasty.

    And these pistachio sandies are going to the top of my ‘Must Bake’ list. I am always looking for new ways to bake with pistachios.

    Thank you!

  37. Such simple ingredients that make a spectacular presentation! I love the cookies, too.

  38. Sarah- and thank you for your kind words!

  39. Love the fruit recipe. I love apples. I’m okay with pears. The pictures make me want to try this recipe.

  40. Jen Yu says:

    pistachio sandies?! brilliant! i’m always looking for new cookies that are simple, but elegant to share. thank you! and what a beautiful salad to boot :)

  41. That salad looks amazing. I love how you stack it up – makes a simple salad SO special! What a treat!

  42. What a lovely time you seem to have had. So nice to spend time “just us”. I love these recipes, especially the pistachio sandies. Thank you!
    Heidi xo

  43. Liz says:

    What a breath-taking salad!

  44. Sini says:

    It’s the first time I’m baking with pistachios so I was wondering if I can use the roasted salted ones or should I use raw ones (can you even get them in the shops?)?

  45. Scarlett says:

    These cookies look amazing!!

  46. Eldrid says:

    Looks so good!!!mmmmm…
    Thanks for sharing all theese delisous food in here! I am so glad your blog exist!



  47. Y says:

    Yummy! I’m starting to think about what cookies I want to bake this month. Linzers are definitely on the cards, and pecan sandies too!

  48. dadá says:

    ¡Qué rico!, delicioso.

  49. Allyson says:

    What a beautiful salad – It looks so yummy! I love the idea of a stacked salad like this! A great way to mix things up a little bit. I’ll definitely have to try this recipe for sure.

  50. rebecca says:

    Your little boy might enjoy the book “Over and Over” by Charlotte Zolotow. My son is always wondering “What comes next?” too. This sweet book goes right along with the curiosity and anticipation of kids their age.

  51. A stacked salad, how beautiful! I love this flavor combination. I cannot get enough pears no matter how hard I try!

  52. Que delicia, que elegancia! me encantan tus propuestas, un beso

  53. Junglefrog says:

    I remember seeing that towering salad in the Donna Hay magazine and totally loved the look of it, but I seriously think yours looks even better. Gorgeous shots as usual!

  54. Looks amazing! We are going to be making the salad for our Christmas dinner!!

  55. says:

    I love the salad but this time the sandies caught my eyes. I remember (fondly) one of my Spanish co-worker bringing back sandies to the US every year. I just loved them. Will try your recipe tomorrow!

  56. Betty says:

    yummy, yummy!

    May I link to you in my bloglist?

    nice regards
    from Betty

  57. Sydney says:

    Yumm. Looks delicious and so simple!!! Just need to make sure you don’t cut yourself on the mandolin :)

  58. Wow amazing photos! I really like the first one it’s like I’m looking at a Curtis Duffy dish! I’ll hook up something like this as a side dish. Nice blog and photography. :)

  59. Ben says:

    Awesome recipe!!..I will surely try this out.

  60. Anadrol says:

    I’ll try the apple pear salad for sure. Love your pictures.


  61. Sini says:

    I made the sandies yesterday. They turned out fabulous! I’m going to make a second patch tonight so I can bring some to my cousin’s boy’s christining party on Sunday. I’m sure the guests will love them (and if they don’t, there will be more for me ;)

  62. Robyn Iaea says:

    Love those petite pears! I always savor your photography — it has such a luminous quality. And YES, let the Christmas baking begin. I love this time of year. Wishing you the happiest of holidays:)

  63. Lisa says:

    This is lovely. Fresh, light, crisp & simple. The presentation also is a classic example of your fine work.
    I am giving a small wedding shower next spring and this would be a perfect first course. I’m thinking, hmmmm what else could I pair with it & wine, there has to be good wine at the table. I have time to practice!
    I thought of you last weekend. Our first snow, a quiet morning, a breakfast table with food set out for those who woke late. I got my camera out and found myself thinking, what would Aran do?
    Would love for you to stop by. My new Nikon D 3000 is my best friend!
    Hope you are enjoying every minute of the holidays!
    xo Lisa

  64. I voted for you! Without doubt you should win that competition! Every time I visit your pages I´m just blown away by the beauty of your images and they are so appetizing.
    Good luck to you!
    Best greetings from Belgium,

  65. wow simple but looks so delicious.

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  67. genevieve says:

    I absolutely love your recipes and your beautiful culinary Art. It is true beauty. Nonetheless, sometimes it surprises me to find ingredients as processed sugar, and cows milk (products) in your recipes. Hopefully that will be a ‘next’ step in your development of more wholesome cooking. A humble wish on my side. Hopefully it will be yours too. :-)

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