I've been Granny Smithed and Red Delicioused to death these past few weeks. Everyone is apple pie this and apple cider that.
I say, let the pear have its day; after all, it's in season, too. So why not make it front and center in your menu?
Pears, like apples, are incredibly versatile. In addition to being delicious served raw, you can bake, poach, sauté, roast and grill them in savory dishes.
In fact, pretty much anything you can make with an apple you can make with a pear. Because they're an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, they should be at the top of every parent's "snacks to get for kids" list.
The skin of a pear can be yellow, green, brown or red in color, or even a combination of two or three colors. The flesh inside, however, should be white to cream-colored, with juice.
There are two main varieties of pears: bell-shaped European and roundish Asian pears. Late summer and fall are peak pear times, and since pears ripen off the tree, they can come to market rock hard. They soften at room temperature, but placing them in a paper bag with a banana speeds up the ripening process.
When the pear yields to the touch, it's ready to eat. Most pears don't change color as they ripen, so what you see is what you get, color-wise.
My favorite are Anjou pears. They're juicy, firm and have a soft mild flavor. Asian pears are crunchy, like a crisp apple. Bartletts (the green ones) are the juiciest. But don't cook them — they're too soft to stand the heat.
Bosc pears are crisp when raw, and are the ones I like best for baking and cooking, as they tend to hold their shape when cooked. Bosc pears are those golden-brown pears that, well, look like a pear. Seckel pears are smaller, have sort of an olive-green skin, and tend to be sweet.
3 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
peel of 1/2 lemon
6 ripe Bosc pears
6 oz. pareve semisweet chocolate
2 Tbsps. pareve margarine
In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugar and lemon peel. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Pare the pears and trim slightly to level bottom; remove core from blossom end, leaving the stem intact.
Add the pears to the poaching liquid, and then reduce heat.
Cover and gently simmer for about 75 to 90 minutes, or until tender when pierced with tip of sharp knife, turning and basting occasionally.
Remove the pears from liquid and stand on a flat dish. Allow the pears to cool.
Melt the chocolate and margarine over very low heat. Dry the pears with paper towels.
Holding each pear carefully by the stem, spoon the chocolate mixture over the pear to coat.
Allow pears to stand in a cool place so that the chocolate can set properly.
3 pears, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups fresh mango, peeled and cubed
3 cups green and red cabbage, sliced very thin
1/3 cup sunflower seed
2/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
6 Tbsps. rice-wine vinegar
2 Tbsps. soy sauce
4 tsps. sugar
1/6 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine the pear, mango and cabbage. Toss lightly.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
Sprinkle the seeds over top.
Serves 6 to 8.
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tsps. butter
2 firm ripe pears, peeled and cored and cut in half lengthwise
2 tsps. sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water and butter.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove the mixture from heat immediately and set it aside.
Arrange the pear halves, cut-sides up, in the prepared pan and drizzle the caramel mixture over the top of the pears. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pears are tender.
To serve, place a pear half on a plate and spoon some of the caramel mixture over.
Top each pear with ice-cream and almonds.
Serves 2 to 4.
Grilled Salmon With Pear Salsa
2 pears, cored and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsps. chopped cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper to taste
4 salmon fillets
salt and pepper
In a bowl, combine the pear, celery red pepper, jalapeño, cumin, lime juice and cilantro. Mix to combine, and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add a small amount of olive oil. Sauté the salmon fillets for about 4 minutes per side.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the fillets with the salsa on top.
3 Tbsps. mayonnaise
2 tsps. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsps. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper, ground
2 cans (12 oz.) tuna, packed in water, drained
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup basil, fresh, chopped
2 pears cut into thin slices
5 cups chopped salad greens
Whisk the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, combine the tuna, carrots, onion, red pepper and basil.
Add the mayonnaise mixture; toss gently. Stir in the pear.
Place salad greens in a large salad bowl, and spoon the pear and tuna mixture on top. Toss.
Brown-Sugar Pear Muffins
11/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
21/4 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pear, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup oil
3-4 Tbsps. finely chopped pecans
3-4 Tbsps. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a 12-muffin pan or use paper liners.
In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix to combine, then add the pear. Mix again.
In another bowl, combine the egg, yogurt, vanilla and oil; whisk to combine. Stir the egg mixture into flour mixture and mix until just combined — don't overmix!
Fill the prepared muffin cups about 2/3 full.
In a small bowl, combine the chopped pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar. Mix, then sprinkle the mixture over each muffin.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned on the top.
Makes 1 dozen.