We are so lucky here in the Pacific Northwest to have such a delicious variety of sumptuous pears! Bartlett, Bosc, Seckel, Concorde – each one different, yet they’re all oh-so-delicious!
The months of October through December are the prime time for pears.
One of my favorite preparations for pears is roasting them: just cut them into thick wedges and toss with a little olive oil, balsamic, and seasoning. Roast them on a sheet pan in a hot oven until they are just tender.
They’re great tossed in a fall salad, served with roast chicken or on a crostini with some gorgonzola for an easy appetizer like in my Roasted Pear Crostini with Gorgonzola! Or maybe even serve them with your Thanksgiving roast turkey as a tasty accompaniment!
Another idea is to make a pear wasabi puree: sauté diced pears till tender, then puree them mixed with a little wasabi for a tasty sauce for grilled fish of scallops.
And don’t forget about the drinks! Try infusing a bottle of vodka with a sliced pear. Let sit for 2 – 3 days then strain! Delicious in cocktails like my Pear Thyme Fizz or put it in bottles and give it as a great fall hostess gift! –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 red Bartlett or other red-skinned pears
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
24 pieces Herbed Crostini (recipe follows)
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled gorgonzola cheese or thinly sliced Cambozola
2 tablespoons 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 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon 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.
Pear Thyme Fizz
Fresh thyme’s savoriness is wonderful against the crisp dryness of pear.
Makes 1 drink
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 1/2 oz Pear Infused Vodka (recipe follows)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
Splash of chilled brut Champagne, dry sparkling wine, or soda water
Thin slice of fresh pear
Small sprig of fresh thyme
Bend the large thyme sprig and drop into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice. Measure in the vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Top with a splash of Champagne. Float a pear slice and thyme sprig in the drink for garnish.
Pear Infused Vodka
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 large ripe pear
1 1/2 cups vodka
Core pear and cut into thin slices (leave skin on) and place in a mason jar with vodka. Cap and shake. Leave to infuse for at least 2 days (up to 5 days) and then strain. (Discard pears.) Refrigerate until ready to use.
This is a bar staple and the most commonly used sweetener. Though you can purchase simple syrup, it is ordinarily sweeter than I prefer, so I highly recommend making your own. Proportions vary but it is easy.
Makes 3 cups
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Mix the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil 1 minute then immediately remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperature before using. Store in a clean glass bottle or container, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks or, refrigerated, for up to 3 months.