Photo by CN Digital Studio
By Esther Sung, Epicurious.com
I have pears on my mind. After last night's dinner, I couldn't stop thinking about a pear and fennel sorbet that had been served as a palate cleanser.
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It's obviously still on my mind. The sorbet had a creamy texture and it's green coloring was similar to that of a pistachio or avocado. But it's the flavoring that absolutely delighted me. It was like eating the best tasting Dutch black licorice with its perfect balance between the anise's slight astringency and the pear's sweetness. And it got me thinking about different ways to enjoy this fall favorite.
I love to eat pears raw and in salads, and poaching pears in wine is a classic. My favorite way to bake with them is in a deep-dish winter fruit pie.
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But I'm feeling adventurous with the fruit so I'm now eying the poached pear fritters and puréed pears for mashed potatoes, the latter which could be an alternative (or companion) to the perennial Thanksgiving favorite roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
Not sure what varieties you're seeing at the market? Get (re)acquainted with our visual guide to pears. And pray tell, what's your favorite way to enjoy a pear?
Honey-Roasted Pear Salad with Thyme Verjus Dressing
Verjus is a tart grape juice made from unripe wine grapes. Milder than vinegar, it can be used in salad dressings without competing with an accompanying wine the way vinegar does. Look for it at specialty foods stores or online at chefshop.com and terrasonoma.com. What to drink: Pour an Oregon Pinot Noir with the salad and the Herbed Lamb Chops with Pinot Noir Sauce. Yield: Makes 8 servings
• 1/3 cup verjus or 3 tablespoons white grape juice and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
• 1 large shallot, finely chopped
• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Pears and salad:
• 3 bunches fresh thyme sprigs
• 4 ripe but firm Bartlett pears (about 2 1/2 pounds), halved, cored
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 head of butter lettuce, coarsely torn
• 4 ounces baby arugula
• 6 ounces blue cheese, sliced or coarsely crumbled
• 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
For pears and salad:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Scatter thyme sprigs on rimmed baking sheet. Place pear halves, cut side down, on work surface. Starting 1/2 inch from stem and leaving pear half intact, cut each lengthwise into scant 1/3- to 1/2-inch-wide slices. Press pear gently to fan slices; place atop thyme sprigs. Drizzle pears with honey; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Combine lettuce and arugula in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among plates. Place pear alongside greens. Garnish salads with cheese; sprinkle with nuts.
Ingredient tip: Lane Crowther uses and Oregon blue cheese from Rogue Creamery, but other good choices are Point Reyes (from California's Marin county) or Maytag blue, which is sold in many markets.
More from Epicurious.com:
• The Best Fall Recipes
• How to Make Zombie Cupcakes
• Homemade Halloween Treats
• Seasonal Ingredient Map
Photo by CN Digital Studio