We are so lucky here in the Northwest to have SO MANY delicious varieties of sumptuous pears! Bartlett, Bosc, Seckel, Concorde … each one different and oh so delicious!
My fave pear preparation? I like to cut them into thick wedges and toss with a little olive oil, balsamic, and seasoning, then roast on a sheet pan in a HOT oven until they are tender. Great tossed in a salad, served with roast chicken or in my Roasted Pear Crostini with Gorgonzola appetizer!
Pears make for some quick and easy sauces too – try sautéing iced pears till tender, puree then mix with a little wasabi for a tasty sauce for grilled fish. Or make a quick fresh relish with diced fresh pears, shallot, a touch of honey and a splash of red wine vinegar, toss it with fresh mint and you have an amazing accompaniment to lamb!
Fresh Northwest pears are also great to include in your favorite smoothie recipe for natural added sweetness and in entrees like one of my favorite easy entertaining recipes – Spiced Baked Chicken with Pears and Port – yum! –Kathy
Photo from Kathy Casey’s Sips & Apps, Chronicle Books – Angie Norwood Browne
Roasted Pear Crostini with Gorgonzola
These are extra-delicious topped with chopped toasted nuts, such as hazelnuts or walnuts. Balsamic glaze can be purchased at gourmet and well-stocked grocery stores.
2 firm NW red Bartlett or other red-skinned pears
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
24 pieces Herbed Crostini (recipe follows)
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled gorgonzola cheese or thinly sliced Cambozola
2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze
Tiny sprigs of fresh thyme
Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F.
To roast the pears: Quarter the pears lengthwise, then core. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 6 slices (you should have 24 slices, total). In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and thyme. Add the pears and toss to coat.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay out the pears, not touching, on the baking sheet. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden and starting to caramelize on the edges. Pears can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.
When ready to serve, lay out the crostini on a baking sheet and top each piece with about 1 heaping teaspoon of gorgonzola or a slice of Cambozola,then a slice of pear. Bake until just warmed, about 4 minutes.
Drizzle each piece with about 1/4 teaspoon balsamic glaze, then garnish with thyme.
Crostini are the must-have party basic. Use as a base for assorted toppers, such as creamy cheeses, tapenade, or spreads.
Makes 32 to 40 pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 long, skinny French baguette, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix the oil, dried herbs, cayenne, and garlic. Lightly brush the baguette slices with the herb oil or, in a large bowl, drizzle the bread with the oil and toss well. Lay out the bread in a single layer on baking sheets, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until just crispy.
Crostini can be made in advance, cooled thoroughly, and stored in airtight containers for up to 3 days. If necessary, recrisp them in a hot oven for a couple of minutes.
Recipe from Kathy Casey Sips & Apps, Chronicle Books – www.LiquidKitchen.com
Spiced Chicken with Pears and Port
This is a great entrée for a dinner party. I also love it sprinkled with blue cheese right before serving for a delicious twist.
Makes 6 servings
3 firm ripe fresh NW pears
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves
2 shallots, thinly sliced
6 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1 unpeeled lemon, sliced (about 9 slices)
1 cup port wine
1 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnishing
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut pears in half and core. Cut each half in half and then in half again—to make large chunks. Reserve.
In a small bowl, mix the spices and salt. Lay the chicken on a baking sheet or piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and sprinkle each piece liberally on both sides with the spice mixture.
In a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté half of the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the skin is deep golden brown and crispy. As the pieces are browned, place them, skin side up, in a 10-by-15-inch baking pan or small roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Pour off any excess oil, then sauté the pears, shallots, garlic, and lemon for about 1 minute. Add the port and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring just to a boil, and then add the hot mixture, with all the goodies, to the roasting pan, pouring it around, not over, the chicken to keep the browned crust intact.
Roast for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is opaque throughout and nicely browned on the outside, with an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (chicken will gain another 5 degrees on standing).
Transfer the chicken to a platter or individual plates and keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, retrieve the pears, shallots, garlic, and lemon slices from the sauce and distribute them over the chicken. Place the roasting pan on a burner on high heat and cook to reduce the sauce to about 3/4 cup. (If you like your sauce to have a bit more body, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water until smooth and whisk into the reducing sauce. Cook till lightly thickened.) Taste the sauce for seasoning, adjust if needed, then drizzle the sauce over the chicken and goodies. Scatter with parsley leaves for garnish.
Adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table cookbook, Chronicle Books – www.KathyCasey.com