Salad Week: Cheese and Calavo Salad

I’m as perplexed as you are kittens.

But when we hatched the idea for this week, I just knew that I needed to action something out of the book that Michelle (my sister-in-law) rescued for me from her school’s library sale.

Vintage, right?

To this day, I will never know why it is that I decided Cheese and Calavo Salad was calling my name.  Because every time I get near a reason that might possibly sound rational, my mind wanders elsewhere.

After reading the extremely tiny concise recipe (the instructions calling for unlisted ingredients like avocados and not mentioning anything about the actual pears listed), I needed to do some Googling.

Because I just had this feeling that the book might have been written in a way that housewives of the time would have understood, but would leave women (and men) today totally clueless.

To wit: The only information I found regarding “Cheese and Calavo Salad” was tucked into a Berkley newspaper from 1944.

So this salad isn’t retro, it’s old-school Victory Garden-style.  Put on your gloves, take off your nylons, and get your ration coupons out.  Because this is happening.

What I learned after all was said and done: Had I Googled “Calavo” and “Calavo” alone, I would have learned that said name for a pear-shaped object was actually a commonly accepted term at the time for Avocados.

That this dish also involved some dark art relating to cheese balls should have been a warning sign (after reading a veritable trove of information on proper cheese ball-creation on the pages preceding it).

All together now: Debacle.

So in all reality, the entirety of this dish was a total sham and more closely resembles something that you would see the chefs on Chopped action for their first course, were they to find these things in their box.

Hindsight is 20/20, but we stay the course.

The ingredients.

Phase One: Fanning the Endive.  Sectioning the Avocado.  Dressing.

If you’re wanting to do something fancy like the above with your dressing, just dump it into a plastic bag, snip off the corner and then pipe it on.  Instant (disposable) glamour.

Phase Two: The impostor-pear.  Stuffing.  Sealing.  Slicing.

As per the one article I found, I felt called to stuff the pear with the cream cheese and then cross-section it in a manner that most closely recalled a Scotch Egg.  Don’t worry, halfway through the segmenting I sliced myself and we called it a day.

And, because I know y’all are hardcore committed to seeing this through until the end, the finished product.

Enjoy this visual while you can, because nothing of this order will ever be exiting my kitchen again.  It’s a hot mess on a plate.

Because I’m in search of constant validation, I may or may not have had Jillian over while I was assembling this because I wanted a second (non-masculine) opinion on the edibility of the dish.

Our opinions:   Separately, they (the avocado and the pear) both worked, but on the same plate they made no sense together.  Which obviously makes a lot of sense now.  The endive-avocado-dressing combination was actually pretty damn good.  On its own it would be a really pretty easy healthy appetizer for a summer BBQ.  The pear could use some honey and a few toasted nuts mixed into the filling.

These are little things once you come to terms with the fact that Calavo Pears are avocados and there shouldn’t have been any actual pears involved at any point in the proces.

And, because it’s Salad week, don’t forget to link-up on Allison’s blog with your recipes/photos and check out all of these lovely ladies and their creations!

14 responses to “Salad Week: Cheese and Calavo Salad

  1. “Hot mess on a plate.” That one kept me giggling for a while. This post was so much fun. I love that you tackled a vintage cookbook and that it was more like a language barrier than an age difference. I applaud you for jumping in and giving it a try, Kat. And I agree with your assessment. It makes more sense as two separate salads. If you make those stuffed pears again, a little crumbled blue cheese might be nice on top.

  2. Who’s #1?

  3. I am thoroughly impressed! Even though there are typically only six ingredients in these older recipes, they can be tricky. I think your version came out splendid! Also, are you surprised the recipe called for Endive leaves? I didn’t think they had those back then?
    Also, I agree with Jeanne, blue cheese fo’ sure on the pears next time!

  4. This is so 1940s that I feel like we should be wearing pincurls.
    I also agree with Jeanne – I’ve never met a pear that didn’t get along famously with blue cheese. And a glass of wine. But here I am getting ahead of myself and planning for cocktail hour again.
    How Ginger Rogers of me.

  5. You gave it your best. I tend to like food very unfussy. Just mix it all in a bowl and I am happy. Going to check out the other salads now. Have a fabulous weekend!

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  8. That’s seriously the strangest salad I’ve ever seen. Salads should just be a random mix of things that taste good in a bowl on a leafy green. Simple.

  9. Who knew Calavo pears were really avocados? Here’s a little useless trivia for you…You have a great score with that cookbook, though. J. R. Watkins has been offering up all-natural mercantile type stuff since the late 1800’s. They started out selling all sorts of linaments and “snake oil” cures, and branched out to just about everything. (Their vanilla extract is one of my favs right now.) The cookbooks were a way to feature their products (a la The Pamered Chef.) If I’m not mistaken, I think they are MN based.

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  11. This whole process was truly fascinating…way to dig deep in the research. I was really scratching my head at that whole avocado/pear confusion…
    Way to tackle it. And I agree with the blue cheese idea. LOVE blue cheese w/ pear.

  12. “We stay the course…”Your writing never ceases to crack me up! I love it. Calavo really just threw me for a loop…glad you cleared that up for me. Thank you for letting me know that avocado and pear do NOT go together. I will not make the same mistake or create the same Debacle.

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