A Little Fall Sunshine


A chill in the air signals that summer has come and gone, and the foods of fall are making their way back onto tables across the country. The change in the season calls for a change in flavors, from light to crisp to hearty and satisfying. One ingredient makes a perfectly seamless transition from summer salads to fall suppers — California raisins.

California raisins are indeed a year-round recipe favorite, but the sweet flavor of raisins also provides a special enhancement to the savory dishes typical of the brisk autumn months.

Elevate the flavors of your dishes with these tasty offerings.


Raisin-and-Lentil Salad

Salad Ingredients:

11/2 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup California golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)

Dressing Ingredients:

2 Tbsps. each: extra-virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the water and the lentils in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes. Let lentils stand for 5 minutes.

Rinse lentils with cold water; drain well.

Transfer to a medium-sized salad bowl with the raisins, bell pepper and green onions.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over the lentils. Toss well to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Gently stir in the pecans, if using, just before serving.

Makes 7 servings.

Honey-Poached Pears With Amaretto-Raisin Topping

2 ripe but firm pears, peeled
2 cups kosher red wine
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 lemon
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup California raisins 1/2 cup coarsely crushed amaretti cookies

Honey-Cream Ingredients:

1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1 tsp. honey
pinch of cinnamon

Cut each pear in half. Remove the core and seeds with a small knife or melon-baller.

Place halved pears in a large saucepan with the wine, honey, water, lemon juice and lemon peel.

Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the pears over and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Remove the pears from the liquid and let cool.

Place 3/4 cup of the poaching liquid in a small saucepan with the raisins. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until raisins are plump and syrupy.

Place each pear cut-side up on a dessert plate.

Top with equal amounts of the raisins, then sprinkle with the crushed cookies.

Stir together honey-cream ingredients, and place a spoonful on the side of each pear serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Courtesy of the California Raisin Marketing Board


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