There is something so sensuous about biting into a pear in its prime: first, the sweet juiciness; then the mild, but distinctive, sensation of texture. Pears are delicious in both sweet and savory recipes. Oven-roasted pears are a study in sweet simplicity. The easy preparation just requires baking and basting with a heady mixture of spices, honey and wine until the skin is delicately crinkled and the flesh—even when underripe—turns as soft as butter. The savory combination of winter squash and pear in Roasted Pear-Butternut Soup with Crumbled Stilton yields a velvety soup that owes its impressive depth of flavor to oven-roasting all the ingredients before pureeing them with vegetable stock.
What you get: A single pear has a significant amount of soluble fiber (about 5 grams) and is a source of anthocyanidins, a potent antioxidant, and potassium.
Shopping Tip: There are a variety of pears to choose from in most grocery stores and each variety has its season. Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t benefit from ripening on the tree. In fact, pears left unpicked tend to rot from the inside out.
Bartlett: Smooth, juicy flesh, excellent for canning, poaching or eating plain. The skin turns bright yellow when ripe. Peak season: August-January.
Red Bartlett: Similar to the regular Bartlett, but turns bright red when ripe. Adds color to salads, also great cooked. Peak season: August-January.
Anjou: Spicy taste with smooth, white flesh. Best enjoyed fresh. Peak season: October-June.
Bosc: Distinguished by its long, tapered neck, slim stem and golden brown skin. Has dense, aromatic flesh with a buttery texture. Great for poaching, roasting, broiling and grilling. Peak season: September-April.
Red Anjou: Spicy taste with smooth flesh. Eat fresh or use it in baking. Peak season: October-May.
Storage Tip: Let pears sit at room temperature, near other ripening fruit or in a brown bag with a ripe banana (which stimulates ripening). Most pears don’t significantly change in color when ripe, so go by touch: ripe pears are soft when gently pressed near the stem. Store ripe pears in the coldest part of the refrigerator to prevent overripening.
"There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fun Fact: The poet Homer considers pears to be “gifts of the gods” in The Odyssey.
Bosc pears are strong-flavored and hold their shape when cooked, making them well suited for this savory side dish. It's a terrific accompaniment for a glazed ham or grilled sausage or most any roasted meat or poultry.
Sweet ripe pear matched with the delicate saltiness of prosciutto defines this creamy risotto that goes well with any roast meat or poultry. Pungent, crispy fried sage leaves give a special finishing touch to this dish.
In this quick saute, vinegar and sugar are caramelized in the skillet, forming a deep, richly flavored base for the sauce. Ginger adds a spicy note that plays against the mild pork and pear.
Here's an elegant yet simple twist on the autumn classic. Pears are oven-poached in Riesling wine, which is known for its floral accents and aromas and hints of honey and pear. Serve this dessert with lightly sweetened ricotta cheese. Delicious hot, room temperature or chilled.
Here pears are roasted to sweet perfection with butternut squash and pureed to create a creamy soup that gets a luxurious garnish of Stilton cheese. You can serve this as a first course or with a salad and crusty bread for a light autumn supper.