Bosc Pear, Currant, and Hazelnut Salad

Bosc Pear, Currants, and Hazelnut Salad

I realize that the holidays of television specials are not, for most people, the holidays of reality. Travel is stressful; family is complicated; people have magazine expectations for non-magazine life, and those magazine expectations tend to hurt when they’re crushed. One of the best and worst parts about family is that you don’t get to pick who they are—You don’t get to pick parents who are super interested in your life or siblings who like all the things you do. You don’t get to pick aunts and uncles who know you’re vegan or gluten-free and are willing to accommodate that when you share your annual Thanksgiving meal. You might see a salad like this one at the end of November and think you want to add it to the holiday meal, but you’re not allowed to help; you might see a salad like this one and wish someone else would make it, but you’re the one already managing the long list. Going into the holiday season, for many people, confronts feelings you probably don’t want to have, and so sometimes you think it might be easier to stay home, or at least to tell the other people to; I know.

Golden Autumn / Nashville

But here’s the thing, from those relationships which you didn’t pick, you also get this—proof you are not in control. In this world where we can tweak our Facebook profiles and decide our Twitter content, where some of us are on our laptops and iPhones so often we find ourselves, in offline conversations, wanting to mute something boring someone says, seeing the fact that we’re not the kings and queens of our own little kingdoms is good.

Bosc Pear, Currants, and Hazelnut Salad

You don’t have to be at a difficult holiday party or an awkward family get-together to realize you are not the center of the known world, but it is a place that shows it. When you’re a guest in someone else’s home, when someone else is the guest in yours, you have to stretch a little and give a little and not do everything exactly your way, and this is terrible and this is wonderful, and this is the holidays, and this is life.

Bosc Pear, Currant, and Hazelnut Salad

The older I get, the more I start to think that the difficult parts of life against which we have our joys and happinesses are, in the end, joys and happinesses in themselves. Not getting the house or the spouse or the job or the family we want hurts; it has to. We need the hurt, to reveal us to ourselves and to contrast other beauties we’d forget to stop and see. I’ve spent a lot of Thanksgivings giving thanks for where I see beauty—This year I’m also thankful for where I don’t, thankful for how those hard things break me and change me and show me myself, thankful for how they magnify the sweet things around which they come.

Autumn Salad with Pear, Currants, and Hazelnuts


Serving Size: 3 to 4

A word about the greens in this recipe: Our meals tend to revolve around whatever our farmer hands out each Monday afternoon, and last week he gave an arugula/mizuna mix. Any similar delicate and/or peppery greens would do---whatever your favorite salad blend might be.


  • 2 cups roughly chopped arugula/mizuna greens
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts (from whole hazelnuts, roasted at 350F for 10 minutes, skins rubbed off after cooling, then pulsed in the food processor)
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about half a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of coarse salt


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing well. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice, or salt as desired. Spoon onto serving plate and enjoy!

35 Comment

  1. This salad is gorgeous!! LOVE!

    1. I love how fast you comment, Katrina. Thank you for your encouragement!

  2. Monika says: Reply

    Such a lovely Saturday post

    1. Thanks, Monika! : )

  3. Sophia says: Reply

    Love the sound of the salad and the clash between our expectations for a magazine life and our real life can be so so true, although on almost any day I prefer my totally non-magazine life to a shiny and polished and likely boring magazine life 😉 As for the hard bits in life, they are hard to embrace (and can be crushing) but they do help us appreciate the small things in life that are so easily overlooked, they help us get to know ourselves, they stretch us and make us grow and ultimately make us us. So while I could have certainly done away with a few of the hard bits in my life, ultimately, they play their part in who I am today (and hopefully the knowledge of having come out the other end will help me deal with any future hard bits life will no doubt throw my way at some point!) and for that I am glad I had to go through them.

    1. Exactly, Sophia. Well said!

  4. lovely lovely post. and what a great reminder that God is in control. Amen sister.

    1. Thank you, Alice!

  5. Thanks for this fresh perspective on gratefulness (and delicious looking salad!) as we go into this Thanksgiving week. Hope you and Tim have a wonderful celebration with family and friends!

    1. Thanks, Lindsey! You too!

  6. Oh what an interesting perspective, love this way at looking at this season which can be both so joyful and so difficult. Lovely looking salad too.

    1. Reading this comment makes me think that I imagine anywhere you go would become a more joyful place from your presence, K, and I mean that — thank you for your regular encouragement.

  7. Erin says: Reply

    This Thanksgiving will definitely be a year of practicing imperfection for my family! We’re having Thanksgiving at my parents’ house (and have family staying there), and as of today they are still doing construction in their house. Hopefully it will be done in time! (Nothing like telling your guests “don’t touch the paint on that wall because it might still be wet” I guess.) But it is good to remember that things are not always perfect, and that is ok.

    1. “Practicing imperfection” — I love that phrase, maybe because we do a lot of it around here, too… : ) Happy Thanksgiving, Erin!

  8. Jacqui says: Reply

    Hey, friend. Hope you have a great holiday. xo

    1. You too, J! I miss you!

  9. Beautiful post, beautiful salad. Happy Thanksgiving to the Mallons! xo

    1. And to you, sweet Marie! Grateful for your ever encouraging voice in the blog world.

  10. beautiful salad! This is exactly what I want to need and just not what I feel like cooking. But I need this one! Also, the blog design, it looks so sharp and gorgeous. Love it, you guys. Enjoy the holiday. xoxo

    1. haha, Baby gets whatever Baby wants! And thanks, Sara, for always being so nice to us.

  11. Jann says: Reply

    I needed to hear this this morning. Thank you. I’ve been feeling like I am beginning to hate the holidays and all the attendant stress. This is a much better way of looking at things, and I’m going to try.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad to hear that, Jann. You’re not alone, as the comments here reveal, and it encourages me to think about that. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Jacqui says: Reply

    True to your writing, I’ve already got a long list of things to make this Thursday, but I’d really love for this salad to be at the table as well. It may be a great relief for the day after though!

    1. I love day-after-Thanksgiving eats almost more than the day-of, if only because they tend to be lighter. : ) PS Jacqui! We made your brown butter oatmeal cookies the day before leaving town and loved them!

  13. Ashley says: Reply

    You said the truth powerfully and so beautifully. I needed to read this as I walk into a thanksgiving where I’m not encouraged to cook where every year it’s “let’s just keep things simple.” But I don’t want it simple! 🙂 of course that’s so small in all the things I have to be thankful for.
    Thanks for this post.

    1. Your comment encouraged me so much this morning, A. And can I just say that, for the record, if you were in my family, I would gladly let you plan the meal and make it as un-simple as you like!! Love to you and your family this Thanksgiving week, my friend.

  14. Hey shanna, loved those words. Holiday season is hard sometimes, in my case because traveling back to Asia would require a lot of money and a lot of holiday leave. And being away from family and friends makes me feel homesick instead of fully enjoying holiday season, but i’m thankful for the “family” and friends I’ve made here; I’m thankful for being able to appreciate the little things that I might have skipped past had I stayed in Singapore instead of moving to Argentina, and for that, i give thanks!

    Happy thanksgiving dear friend.


    1. F – Being away from family at the holidays is definitely hard. Big hugs to you! Based on your sweet spirit and attitude, I know you’ll be surrounded by loving friends who fill you up. Wishing that for you now and all year. Happy Thanksgiving! -s

  15. Shanna, I cannot tell you how much I relate to this post… It was there when I really needed to read it. Thank you. A very happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. Ever so grateful for your voice.

    1. Helene, I cannot tell you how much I always appreciate your extremely kind comments. Thank YOU. A very blessed, happy Thanksgiving to you, too, my dear.

  16. Alexis says: Reply

    Please please tell me where you found the currents! I absolutely love them, but can’t seem to find them anywhere.

    1. Alexis, We bought a bulk container of them at Whole Foods! If you have one of those near you, it’s a good bet. Crossing my fingers for you!

  17. Shanna, as I lie here unable to sleep. I find myself thankful for stumbling into this post as opposed to all the other options on your site. The holiday was indeed an overwhelming time where I continually found myself wanting to edit all the clips I didn’t like through out the day. In a desperate attempt to create my magazine holiday. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not in control. I’m finishing this weekend with a new perspective.

    1. Oh, Charles, I hate those nights when it’s hard to sleep because my mind is going. The worst! I definitely relate to what you said about the holiday and expectations, and man, I need that reminder that I’m not in control more than anybody. Thanks for encouraging us with your comment — Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. […] Bosc Pear, Currant, and Hazelnut Salad | A Literary Cookbook | Food Loves Writing. […]

Leave a Reply