Lots of Ways to Use Pears


Nellis pears from the farmers market in Arcata, Calif., Oct. 16, 2007, photographed on the beach in nearby Redwoods National Park

Pear and Squash Bruschetta [top]

1 butternut squash (1-1/2 pounds)
2 yellow onions (1 pound), coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 sage leaves
3 ripe pears, cored and cut into half-inch cubes
1/2 pound loaf sourdough bread
1/4 pound smoked ricotta or smoked mozzarella cheese
Pumpkin seed oil or extra virgin olive oil

1. Peel squash. Combine squash trimmings, onion and carrots in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes or until liquid is flavorful, adding additional water to keep about 3 cups liquid in pan. Strain. Reserve liquid and discard solids.

2. Scrape seeds from squash and discard. Cut squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat olive oil and butter in a large shallow pan. Add sage and fry for 30 seconds or until crisp and fragrant. Remove sage with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towel and reserve for garnish.

3. Add squash and pears to pan. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until just starting to brown. Add 1 cup of the squash stock and cook until reduced. Repeat, using about 3 cups stock. Pears and squash should be soft but still hold shape. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, slice bread into 1/2-inch slices. Toast in 350ºF oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spoon about ¼ cup warm pear-squash mixture onto each bruschetta. Using a vegetable peeler, make ribbons of cheese and place on top of each. Drizzle with pumpkin seed or olive oil if desired. Garnish servings with fried sage.

Source: Chef Craig Richards, La Tavola Trattoria,
Atlanta, Ga. (for Pear Bureau Northwest)

Balsamic Glazed Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini [top]

2 pears
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon honey
24 baguette rounds, toasted
1/2 cup goat cheese, spreadable
1/2 cup almonds, slivered, toasted*
black pepper, ground, if desired

1. Slice pears stem side up into 12 quarter-inch width vertical planks. Cut large slices in half lengthwise for a total of 48 slices.

2. Heat vinegar, butter and honey in large frying pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until reduced by half, about 2 tablespoons. Add pear slices and continue cooking for 1 minute turning once.

3. Place 2 pear slices on each baguette round and top with 1 teaspoon goat cheese. Sprinkle almonds over cheese and garnish with fresh pepper, if desired.

*To toast almonds, place in heavy frying pan and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes or until tan with toasted aroma.

Source: Pears USA, Pear Bureau Northwest

Braised Bartlett Pear and Chicken Pastilla [top]
(Makes one 9-inch pie, serves 6-8)

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, or 1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
3 cups diced Bartlett pears (1 pound)
2 large onions, chopped (1 pound)
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup mild olive oil
10 13 x 17-inch phyllo leaves
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

To Prepare Chicken Filling:

1. If using whole seeds, grind coriander and cumin in a spice grinder, or crush in a mortar and pestle. Add cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Set aside.

2. Heat canola oil in a deep skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Return chicken to pan. Add broth and cream. Cover and simmer over low heat about 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool.

5. Continue to simmer sauce until thickened and reduced by half. Beat eggs and yolk; stir into sauce and cook on low heat about 10 minutes until sauce thickens again.

6. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces and return to pear mixture. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

To Assemble Pastilla:

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a 9-inch round springform pan. Fold one phyllo leaf in half and place on bottom of pan. Brush with oil. Evenly arrange 8 overlapping phyllo leaves in pan draping ends over sides, lightly brushing each leaf with olive oil.

2. Spoon chicken-pear mixture into pan. Top evenly with almonds. Fold ends of phyllo over filling. Brush top with oil. Bake 45 minutes until golden brown.

3. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon and sift over top of Pastilla. Remove sides of pan and cut into wedges.

Source: Chef Mark Poccaro, Top of the Hub, Boston
(for Pear Bureau Northwest)

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pears, Wild Rice, Walnuts [top]

3 acorn or dumpling squash
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup wild rice
1 ½ cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large rib celery, finely chopped
2 firm Bosc or Anjou Pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Cut each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. If necessary, trim the top and bottom so that the squash will sit level, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle each half with a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg, to taste. Using 3 tablespoons of the butter, dot each half with some butter. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake the squash just until moist and tender, about 45 minutes.

3. In a 10-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pears and saute 2 minutes longer. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low, and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme, and parsley and saute 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, sauteed vegetables and pears, walnuts and dried cranberries. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired. Mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through, about 20 minutes.

To toast nuts:

Place the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Alternatively, the nuts can be browned in a microwave. Place the nuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Watch carefully that they don’t burn.

Source: Pears USA, Pear Bureau Northwest

Roasted Pear and Delicata Squash Soup
with Parmesan Croutons

2 pounds delicata squash or butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 firm but ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, cut in half lengthwise and cored
4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan Croutons:
2 cups ½-inch cubes of French or rustic white bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the flesh of the squash and pears with olive oil and place, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 to 35 minutes.

2. Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh of the squash and pears, and put in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Discard the skins. Puree until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups of the chicken broth and continue processing until smooth.

3. Put this mixture in a 3 ½-to 4-quart saucepan, add the remaining chicken broth, the cream, nutmeg, and sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. To make the croutons, place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over, add the Parmesan, and toss the bread cubes until thoroughly coated. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasty brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.

5. When ready to serve, ladle the soup into a warmed soup tureen or individual soup bowls, garnish with the croutons, and serve immediately. Serves 6

Source: Pears USA, Pear Bureau Northwest

Endive Salad with Roasted Pears, Hazelnuts,
Blue Cheese and Cranberry Vinaigrette

2 unpeeled ripe but firm pears
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 head baby frisee
2 heads Belgian endive
1 small head radicchio, sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cups baby arugula
Cranberry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped

1. To roast the pears, preheat an oven to 500 F. Cut the pears into eighths lengthwise. Core, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, then gently toss the pears in the mixture.

2. Spread the pears on a rimmed baking sheet lightly sprayed with vegetable-oil cooking spray and roast for 7 to 10 minutes, or until lightly caramelized. You can make the pears up to 1 day in advance. If you do, cool them thoroughly before refrigerating, then bring to room temperature about 1 hour before serving.

3. To finish the salad, cut the root end and about 1 inch of the top off the frisee. Rinse the frisee thoroughly, separate the head into leaves, and spin dry. Cut the stem ends off the endive, halve the heads lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into thin strips.
Toss the frisee and endive in a large, deep bowl with the remaining greens and about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.

4. Divide the greens among large dinner plates. Top each salad with pears, cheese, cranberries, and hazelnuts, dividing evenly. Pass additional dressing.

Cranberry Vinaigrette

2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil or very light olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, and vinegar in a small nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cranberries pop, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

2. Puree the mixture in a blender, then blend in the mustard and orange juice. With the machine running, gradually drizzle in the oil. The dressing should become smooth and emulsified. Blend in the salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

Source: Chef Kathy Casey, Dish D’Lish, Seattle
(for Pear Bureau Northwest)

Pear Ginger Chutney
(Makes 4 cups) [top]

4-5 Comice or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and diced (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
8 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 dried arbol chiles
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons julienne sliced ginger
2 tablespoons garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add whole cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, chiles, fennel and nigella seeds. Cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add onions; sauté until browned. Add julienne ginger and garlic; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients except pears and simmer until slightly syrupy, 10-15 minutes.

2. Add pears and simmer until tender but still hold their shape, 15-30 minutes depending on ripeness of pears. When pears are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer chutney to a tray to cool. If desired, remove large pieces of whole spices. Return any remaining liquid to stove and simmer until thick and syrupy. Combine hot syrup and pears in a bowl. Cool completely to allow flavors to mingle. Serve with naan or pappadums.

Source: Chef David Anderson, Vindalho, Portland, Ore.
(for Pear Bureau Northwest)

Poached Bosc Pears [top]

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 1/2 cups water
3 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
6 ripe Bosc pears, peeled and cored

1. Dissolve sugar into wine and water. Add cloves and cinnamon stick. Pears may be poached whole, or cut in half and poached. You may poach 2 or 3 pears at a time, removing when poached, adding rest of pears or halves.

2. Add pears to wine mixture and heat until just simmering. Lower heat and poach gently for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand in poaching liquid overnight. Gently remove them from the poaching liquid and drain briefly on paper towels.

3. Serve with Creme Anglaise, whipped cream, or a reduction of the poaching liquid. Garnish with fresh mint. To reduce poaching liquid, boil until liquid is reduced by 2/3, or becomes a light syrup.

Bartlett Pear Orange Bar Cookies [top]

3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
6 Bartlett pears, pared and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
Orange Glaze*

1. Combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Stir in about 1/2 cup milk, one tablespoon at a time, until all flour is moistened. Divide dough in half. Roll out half dough to 17×12-inch rectangle.

2. Carefully place in 15×10-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Arrange pear slices over crumbs. Combine sugar and orange peel; sprinkle over pear slices.

3. Roll out remaining dough to 15×10-inch rectangle and place on top of pears; seal and flute edges. Cut several steam vents in top of crust. Brush top of pastry with milk. Bake at 375°F 45 to 55 minutes or until pastry is golden. Brush with Orange Glaze while warm.

Orange Glaze

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons orange juice or milk

1. Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons orange juice or milk; stir until smooth. Makes 1/3 cup.

Pear Gem Bar Cookies [top]

1 to 2 fresh, ripe Anjou or Bosc Pears
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 egg, slightly beaten
1-3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1. Core and chop pears to equal 1 1/2 cups; set aside. Combine brown sugar, oil, water and egg; beat well. Add flour, allspice, soda and salt; mix well. Stir in pears. Pour into greased 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1-inch baking pan.

2. Bake at 375° F for 12 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar; cut into diamond-shaped bars (about 2 x 1-1/2-inches).

Pear Walnut Cake [top]

2 fresh Bartlett pears, cored
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans may be substituted)
Broiled Maple Topping*

1. Finely chop pears to equal 1 1/2 cups. Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until mixture is well blended.

2. Combine flour, spices, salt and baking soda; add to mixture alternately with milk. Stir in chopped pears and nuts. Turn into greased (or spray with a non-stick product) 12x8x2-inch baking pan.

3. Bake at 350° F for 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Spread Broiled Maple Topping over warm cake. Broil 2 to 3 minutes (watching carefuly) or until bubbly.

Broiled Maple Topping

1. Melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, 2 tablespoons maple flavored syrup, 1 cup flaked coconut, and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Fresh Anjou Pear Tart [top]

3 ounces almond paste
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter softened to room temperature
2 eggs
3/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and ground
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 prepared 9 inch tart shell
1/2 cup chocolate, melted
4 firm-ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 lemon, juiced
4 ounces apricot preserves, melted and strained

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. For filling, cream together almond paste and sugar. Add butter and mix until smooth. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Add ground hazelnuts, vanilla and mix.

2. Brush melted chocolate on bottom of prepared tart shell and pour in filling. Bake at 350° F for 35 to 40 minutes, until filling is lightly browned and set in the center. Cool tart on rack.

3. When the tart is cooled, toss pear slices gently with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Arrange pear slices in concentric circles. Brush completed tart with strained apricot preserves.