Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst is celebrating pear season with recipes for poached pears, pear cake and pear salad. She brings samples for host Robin Young to taste.
Apples get all the attention this time of year. But pears are their sophisticated autumn cousin. Pears have a lot to offer: They boast a sweet, earthy flavor, have fiber and vitamin C, are fat- and cholesterol-free and each is only about 100 calories.
Unlike most other fruit, pears don’t ripen on trees. They are harvested when mature, but not yet ripe. Keep them at room temperature; you’ll know they’re ready when you give a gentle squeeze on the neck and the pear yields. The pear should be quite aromatic.
Once ripe, you can refrigerate pears. At the market, look for ones that are firm and bruise-free.
Poaching pears in a mixture of white wine or Champagne, and fresh ginger makes a light, elegant dessert. The pears keep their shape and are served in the boiled down syrup. The pears can be made a day ahead of time and chilled overnight.
Imagine an entire, gorgeous show-off cake made in a cast-iron skillet.
Think of a pineapple upside down cake, but with slices of juicy pear laid into the bottom of the skillet in caramelized brown sugar and butter, and then a very simple, spice-infused cake batter poured on top. Pop it in the oven, bake for just over half an hour and you have an impressive dessert.
Serves 6 to 8.
The Pear Topping
Although this salad has several elements, everything can be prepared ahead of time and assembled at the last minute, making this an ideal dish.
I love the autumnal flavors found in the salad: the tender green of the spinach leaves, the chewy red sun-dried cranberries, the sweet crunch of the nuts, the creamy tangy blue cheese toasts and, the star of the show, those buttery, pale, sweet pears. This would make an excellent salad for the holidays served as first course, side dish or light lunch.
Serves 4 to 8.
*Look for pears that are just beginning to get soft, but are still somewhat firm.
The Candied Pecans
The Sun-Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette
The Blue Cheese Toasts And Salad
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