One of my favorite childhood foodie memories was sharing the plate of sliced pears and cheese that my mom had waiting for me after a long day at grade school. I so loved the concept of sharing a healthy snack and so continued the tradition with my boys.
Finding out that not only were they lactose intolerant but allergic to pears (and bananas and a few other fruits I’d been giving them on a regular basis) put kind of a crimp in my good mom planning. Needless to say, they ate other stuff after school and I ate my pears all by myself.
My boys are now men, have moved on to other locations to feed themselves, so I’ve decided to bring back the pear with a vengeance.
The pear is a super-delicious fall fruit that is related to apples and can often be substituted for them in certain recipes. Like apples, the color of the skin of the different varieties ranges from yellow to green to brown and red or a combination of two or more of these colors. The inside fruit is cream colored, juicy and runs the gamut from tart to sweet. They’re a terrific source of fiber and vitamin C for only 100 calories per serving. Add to the fact that they’re sodium free, fat free and cholesterol free and you have one excellent fruit.
Pears, like apples, come in a multitude of sizes and types. There are two main varieties: the bell-shaped European varieties and the round Asian pears. These are the most popular types available in your grocery or at the farmers market.
To find the best pears look for ones that give a little when pressed at their neck and have a slight floral fragrance. Most people don’t know that pears actually ripen off the tree and if they’re hard when you buy them, they’ll soften when left at room temperature or stored in a sealed paper bag with a banana for a few days.
The following recipes are all yummy and can be used to introduce your youngsters to the joy of pears — as well as reminding you that sometimes a simple plate of cheese and fruit is all you need to bring back the best of your childhood.
Caramel Coated Pears
(Dairy or Pareve)
1⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
1⁄4 cup water
2 tsps. butter or margarine
2 medium firm ripe pears
sweetened whipped cream or pareve whipped topping
2 tsps. sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350˚.
In a small sauce pan, combine sugar, water and butter. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove the caramel mixture from heat and set aside.
Peel and core pears, and cut pears in half lengthwise. Arrange pear halves, cut sides up, in a baking dish and drizzle the caramel mixture over the top of the pears.
Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until tender.
Place pear halves in dessert dishes; spoon 2 tablespoons of caramel mixture evenly over pears.
Top with whipped cream and almonds.
Serves 2 to 4.
Pear, Mango and Cabbage Slaw
3 ripe pears, cubed
2 cups fresh mango peeled and cubed
4 cups green cabbage sliced very thin
1⁄4 cup oil
6 Tbsps. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsps. soy sauce
4 tsps. sugar
1⁄8 tsp. garlic powder
1 dash salt
1⁄2 cup sunflower seeds
In a large salad bowl, combine the pears, mangos and cabbage. Toss to combine.
In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinegar, oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder and salt. Shake to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
Sprinkle the seeds over the top and serve.
Serves 6 to 8.
Grilled Salmon With Lime Pears
2 pears, cored and chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. lime juice
zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsps. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
4 salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine the pears, peppers, jalapeno, cumin, lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the salmon fillets for about 4 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper and serve the fillets with the salsa on top.
Brown Sugar and Pear Pecan Muffins
1 and 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 and 1⁄4 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ginger
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 pear, peeled and chopped finely
1⁄2 cup yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
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 and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Fold in the chopped pear.
In another bowl combine the egg, cinnamon, yogurt and oil and whisk to combine. Gently, stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix.
Fill the prepared muffin cups about 2⁄3 full. In a small bowl, combine the chopped pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle topping mixture over each muffin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned on the top.
Bartlett Pear Quesadilla
4 flour tortillas (8 inches in diameter)
1⁄2 cup each shredded pepper jack and crumbled blue cheese
3 Tbsps. sliced fresh basil leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
2 Tbsps. chopped onion
2 Tbsps. chopped hazelnuts
1 pear, cored and very thinly sliced
2 tsps. olive oil
On half of each tortilla, sprinkle 1⁄4 of the cheeses, basil, onion and hazelnuts; top with pear slices.
Fold in half and brush both sides with olive oil.
Heat in non-stick skillet 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cheese melts and tortilla browns. Cut each quesadilla into four pieces.
Makes 8 appetizer servings.