September 24th 2009 06:35 pm
Pears are my favorite autumn fruit. Delicious, richly textured, and perfect to use in both sweet and savory dishes. They are a wonderful ingredient to plan a fall party around. You can create a cocktail or a full dinner menu incorporating this luscious fruit. If you have a big kitchen and a well stocked pantry, you could throw an Iron Chef style party. Your guests and you can make the dinner course by course.
If you want to plan your menu in advance and cook yourself, take a look at a few of the following menu possibilities. You’ll be surprised with how versatile the pear is.
Start your guests off with a pear cocktail. Ahead of time peel few ripe pears and puree the flesh in a blender with the juice of a lemon. Strain if you want a thinner syrup or add some water. Use this in your usual martini, or mojito recipe. Liven up the typical mojito by using basil in addition to the traditional fresh mint. If the pear is sweet enough, you may be able to leave simple syrup out of your usual recipes all together.
Assemble a pear-brie bruschetta on top of lightly toasted bread spread with a little pistachio-thyme pesto. It’s a beautiful appetizer. Make a silky pear winter squash soup with a hint of port wine. Serve with a spinach salad topped with dried fruit and goat cheese tossed in your favorite vinaigrette for a complete meal. (Hint: make your own vinaigrette using pear puree, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Incorporate some fresh herbs that you happen to have on hand.)
Create a quick and easy pear main course by getting a pre-made pizza shell at the grocery. Spread the crust with garlic butter or a your favorite pesto sauce, then a layer of thinly sliced pears, top with some truffle oil and sliced fresh mozzarella cheese. You can either bake it in the oven or cook it on top of the grill. As another option, Trader Joe’s has an Italian truffle cheese that makes a great panini combined with sliced pear and crusty ciabatta.
You probably already have a pear dessert recipe in your arsenal. But try a pear sorbet. It’s a snap if you have an ice cream maker. Just puree ripe pear flesh with a little of your favorite sweetener as a base. The pear makes it the perfect ‘ice cream’ consistency. Add fresh or frozen berries and a tablespoon of your favorite liquor to amp up the flavor.
Remember pears need to be stored at room temperature and should ripen within a few days. Throw them into paper bag when you bring them home from the store to speed the ripening process up a little. Once they are ripe you should use them immediately.