Prepare Candied Walnuts or Pecans; set aside.
Prepare Poppy Seed Dressing; set aside.
Cut pears in halves and remove cores (I like to you use a melon baller). Place one pear half, cut-side down, on a cutting board and slice it into 1/4-inch slices beginning 1/4 inch below the top. Leave the top intact. NOTE: Dip the sliced pear halve in a bowl containing ice water, a little lemon juice and a little water. This will prevent the pear flesh from turning brown. Repeat with remaining pear halves.
To serve, place either watercress or arugula leaves on serving plates. Place one (1) sliced pear half on each plate. Separate the slices and fan them out from the uncut top portion so there is a uniform amount of the pear flesh showing for each slice
Lightly spoon prepared Poppy Seed Dressing over each pear. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and the candied nuts.
Makes 8 servings.
Poppy Seed Dressing Recipe:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons toasted poppy seeds
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
In a jar or bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper together until well blended.
Store, covered, in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
Candied Walnuts or Pecans:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 cups walnuts or pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a small saucepan over low heat, add the sugar and the orange juice; stir just until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil; boil approximately 15 minutes, stirring, until mixture starts to get thick and crystallize. NOTE: There will be a rim of sugar that crystallizes out around the edge of the pan, and the mixture will become quite thick and syrupy and will have a lot of sugar crystals in it. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts or pecans
Add salt and cayenne pepper. Place the walnuts onto a non-stick baking sheet using two warm wet spoons to prevent sticking. Cool and store in an airtight container.