Put a pear in a red dress and she’ll dance all night long. And she’s got moves.
We love her decisively pear-shaped bod and the way she fans the culinary flame at the swivel of her ample hip. Party animal. Local pears are in town for the holidays offering feastworthy fare from salads to chutney to desserts. Put your party dress on, grab a pear and get cookin’.
Radicchio’s bitterness is softened with grilling or roasting and is a zesty partner for honey roasted pears, toasted hazelnuts and blue cheese. A gorgeous winter salad, throw a few dried cranberries on top if you have them. A little extra effort is required for the roasting of the pears and radicchio, toasting hazelnuts, but it’s worth it, and the blue cheese dressing comes together quickly.
Roasted Pear & Radicchio Salad Recipe
with Hazelnuts & Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
Peel, cut in half and core 2 pears. Place sprigs of thyme on a parchment-lined baking pan, place pears, cut side down, on top of thyme. Drizzle with 2 T honey. Roast in a 350º oven for 15 minutes.
While pears roast, lightly oil, salt & pepper quartered pieces of radicchio. Roast with the pears, for 8 – 10 minutes, remove from the oven, cool and slice.
Lightly toast 1/2 C hazelnuts, or more ambitiously, make sweet & spicy hazelnuts. Chop coarsely for salad.
Dressing: 3 – 5 oz. blue cheese (reserve half of it), 1/2 C sour cream, 1/4 C mayonnaise or yogurt, 2 T half & half or whole milk, 1 small peeled clove of garlic. Mix together in a blender, or by hand with a whisk. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk.
Assemble a mix of radicchio or mazuma and arugula among four salad plates – or whatever greens are available. Drizzle with plenty of creamy dressing. Top with 1/2 roasted pear, a few bits of the reserved blue cheese, and a generous handful of coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Grated fresh pepper. Good way to start a party.
Etta’s Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Recipe
This Tom Douglas recipe arrived in the mail several years ago when he was doing monthly newsletters. We love it.
Makes a 10-inch cake, serving 10 or 12 people. Active time 30 minutes, total time 1 1/2 hr.
The Topping: Preheat oven to 350º/ 2 1/2 firm pears (like Bosc), 1/2 stick melted butter (1/4 C), 3/4 or 1 C packed light brown sugar.
Peel, core and slice the pears. 1 1/2 large pears, sliced, filled my pan./ Brush the bottom and sides of a 10-inch round cake pan with some of the 1/4 C butter, reserve the rest/ Press the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and drizzle the reserved melted butter over it/ Arrange pear slices in a circular pattern over the brown sugar-butter mixture/ Set the prepared cake pan aside.
The Gingerbread Cake: In a large bowl whisk together 2 eggs, 1 C melted butter, the zest of 1 orange and 1 C sugar/Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together 1 C brewed coffee, 1/2 C molasses and set aside/ In yet another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 C flour, 2 t baking soda, 1 t salt, 1 t cinnamon, 2 t ginger, 1/2 t nutmeg/ Alternately add the wet (coffee-molasses) ingredients and the dry ingredients to the egg-sugar mixture/ When the batter is completely mixed, pour it into the prepared pan (over the pears, sugar & butter).
Bake at 350º for 40 – 45 minutes or until done. Full disclosure. This gingerbread was slightly undercooked. Delicious anyway, it needed more like 50 rather than 45 minutes baking time.
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan 5 – 10 minutes, then run a knife around the outside edge and carefully invert pan onto a large plate. Lift the pan away and there you have the circle of caramelized pears on top of the ginger cake. Dark and rich and gooey, with or without cognac-spiked whipped cream, this is another of the versatile pears’ party moves.
Pear Ginger Chutney Delicious with pork, chicken and turkey, a great gift. Doesn’t have to be preserved, it will hold refrigerated in a jar for two or three weeks.
Speaking of parties, we’re all invited to participate in the Eat Local Thanksgiving challenge. “The Eat Local for Thanksgiving campaign was created to shine a public spotlight on the connections that buying locally has to the environment, use of fossil fuels and energy, supporting our local community, and helping keep our local farmers farming.”
I might end up eating my words, but with Farmers Markets offering abundant autumnal fruits, roots and greens the challenge of putting local food on the Thanksgiving table is readily attainable. A little more thought might be required to find a local/regional turkey, but they’re around too.
COMING SOON: We’re updating, and we think, uplifting our site. Same Mixed Greens header, same broads at the helm, but with more photographs, easier maneuvering for readers, we hope, and a photo gallery. A couple of weeks away give or take. Stay tuned.