By Libbie Summers, Creative Culinary Director for Terra’s Kitchen
Kelsey has been a friend since college, she claims to have a “pear shaped body” –hips wider than shoulders. Truth be told, I’ve known Kelsey long enough to see a lot of similarities with she and pears. Her face turning Starkrimson red every time a certain Sigma Chi entered the room. The time her skin took on a Green Anjou hue after too many Spring Break cosmos and then changed to a Bosc golden color from her time basking in the sun to sleep off the effects of being over served.
Like Kelsey, pears are in their prime right now. This week, at Terra’s Kitchen, we are celebrating pears –their beauty, variety, health benefits, storage and a couple of wonderful recipes to make with the family.
Most common North American Pear Varieties/Superlatives:
Anjou (Best Personality) –Egg-shaped in appearance with skin that is bright green with an occasional brush of red. Anjou pears are juicy when ripe with a subtle lemon-lime sweetness. The dense flesh holds up well to heating like baking, roasting, poaching and grilling.
Bartlett (Best Looking) –True pear shaped. Green or red flesh colored that can change to yellow when ripening. Bartlett pears are very aromatic with a rich pear flavor. Sliced for eating raw is best or great for canning. Bartlett pears do not hold up as well as other varieties under high heat.
Bosc (The Most Likely to Succeed) –Warm cinnamon brown in color with russeting over the surface. Bosc pears have an elongated neck that gradually widens to a rounded base. The flesh is dense and firm which holds up well for baking and broiling and isn’t overtaken by any strong spices.
Comice (Class Clown) –Everyone loves this pear. Comice are short and round in body with a defined neck. Their flesh is creamy, very smooth and most often green. Full of juice and very sweet. Perfect for serving alongside soft ripening cheese. Makes a great pear sauce and will get along with any fruit when thrown in a blender together.
Pears are a very good source of fiber, vitamins (B2, Cand E), copper and potassium all packed into a fat-free/cholesterol-free/low calorie package.
Pears ripen from the inside out and the neck is the narrowest part of the pear –closest to the core. So check the neck of your pairs by giving a little press with your thumb near the stem. When the pear “gives” a little then the pear is ripe. It’s important to note that not all pears change color while ripening. For example, the Green Anjou pear will remain green even when fully ripe.
Easy Pear Cinnamon Chips
(a little sweet with a chewy crunch)
Makes about 4 servings
What you need:
- 2 firm pears
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
What to do:
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 4 baking sheets (or work in batches) with parchment paper. Use a mandoline to thinly slice pears about 1/8-1/4-inch-thick and place onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours, remove from oven, and flip pears over. Place back in the oven and turn the oven off. Allow to sit overnight. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle lightly over the pears
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days.
*Great served with sliced cheese for a perfect fall snack.
Pear Yogurt Crisp
(cinnamon pears, yogurt nut oat topping)
Serves about 8
What you need:
- 8 cups ripe pears, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 1 teaspoon butter, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup cold butter, chopped
- 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tablespoons walnuts
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9-inch pie plate. Toss the pears and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a large bowl. Place into the prepared pie plate and top with 1 teaspoon chopped butter.
Add the rolled oats, flour, butter, yogurt, remaining cinnamon, vanilla, salt, brown sugar, and walnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to just combine. Pour evenly over the tops of the pears, pressing down just slightly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, covering loosely with foil halfway through, or until the pears are soft and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or chilled topped with additional yogurt, vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap or place into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
*This just-sweet pear crisp boasts a touch of yogurt in the oat topping, making it a great option to serve to friends for brunch, topped with yogurt, or dessert, with a dollop of whipped cream. You get all the health benefits of pears, plus the crunchy, savory taste of yogurt crisp!
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