Bartlett, Bosc, Seckel, Anjou… we are so lucky here in the Northwest to have so many varieties of sumptuous pears right at hand – the West Coast produces around 95% of the nation’s commercially grown fresh pears! Pears are one of the few fruits that do not mature well if ripened on the tree. They are picked before they are ripe, then packed carefully, stored and shipped, usually still unripened.
Speaking of – it’s easy to ripen a pear. Place them in a paper bag and leave out at room temperature. When the pear yields to gentle pressure near the base of the stem, it is ready to eat. Refrigerate till needed, and for best flavor bring back to room temperature before eating.
October, November and December are when the widest variety of pears are available. Wanna taste them all? Hold a pear tasting! Pair them up (no pun intended!) with some great wines, cheeses, and a loaf of French bread and make an evening of it. Pears are the perfect partner to wine and cheese.
My favorite pear preparation? I like to cut them into thick wedges and toss with a little olive oil, balsamic and seasoning then toss on a sheet pan and roast in a hot oven till tender and roasted. Great served with roast chicken or as Roasted Pear Crostini with Gorgonzola for an easy app!
Oh, and don’t forget about drinks: try infusing a bottle of your favorite vodka with slices of fresh pear – just let sit for 2 days then strain! Delicious in cocktails or the perfect holiday gift!
So pick up some pears and get creative with these wonderful, versatile fruits! – Kathy
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 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 Tbsps 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