Apples or cranberries are often the go-to fall fruits, but pears follow closely behind. Beloved by humans since the Romans, pears are popular in salads, in desserts — or even on grilled cheese sandwiches. Succulent and sweet, you should buy them while they're still firm and unblemished and let them ripen on your countertop for the perfect addition to your favorite fall dishes. Here are five ideas for how to use them.
Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent
Cinnamon Pear Chips
These chips make for a great snack, whether you're grazing at work or having people over for a Lightning game. They're easy to make, too, since all you need are a couple of pears and cinnamon sugar. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Thinly slice 2 pears and lay the slices out in a single layer on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar across the top and bake for 2 hours, turning them halfway through. Place them on a wire rack to cool and finish with a light dusting of cinnamon. Recipe adapted from kleinworthco.com.
Balsamic Pear and Brie Crostini
Crostini are easy items to bring to a potluck or to put on the table as appetizers for a holiday party. Plus, pear and Brie is a classic, crowd-pleasing combination, so you can't go wrong with this recipe. Preheat a skillet or grill pan on medium heat. Cut a baguette into ½-inch slices. Drizzle one side with olive oil and toast bread until lightly browned. Remove from pan and top with a slice of Brie and a slice of pear. Drizzle balsamic glaze over top and garnish with thyme. Recipe adapted from gogogogourmet.com.
Roasted Pears With Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Dried Cranberries
This recipe is simple to put together and makes the house smell like the holidays, which is why I've decided to add it to our Thanksgiving spread this year. If you're taking this dish to a party, prep everything at home, bring the ingredients in separate containers and assemble and bake the pears before dinner so that they can be served hot for dessert. First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then, in a small bowl, mix 3 ounces crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola with ¼ cup dried cranberries and ¼ cup sliced walnuts. In a separate bowl, mix 3 tablespoons port wine with ½ cup apple cider and ⅓ cup lightly packed light brown sugar. Setting both bowls aside, peel, half and core three pears.(You can use Anjous, which work well for baking, or Bosc pears, which hold up well when poached in red wine.) Place the halves into a baking dish and pile the cheese mixture into the hollowed-out center. Pour the wine mixture over the top, so that it coats the pears and fills the bottom of the dish, and then bake the pears for 30 minutes until they're tender. Recipe adapted from "Back to Basics" by Ina Garten.
Pork Chops With Pear Chutney
In the South, pork chops and applesauce is a staple. More often than not, these dinners consist of a quick roast and a jar of store-bought applesauce. Bring this classic back to the table by making a quick pear chutney to go alongside or on top of your meat. Plus, it will keep for a few weeks, so you can reuse it. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add ½ diced red onion, cook until softened and stir in 1 clove minced garlic. After about 30 seconds, add 1 cored and ¼-inch diced pear, 1 cored and ¼-inch diced apple, ¾ cup orange marmalade, 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or more, depending on taste), 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, ½ cup apple juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until fruit is soft. (Optional: Add ½ cup golden raisins.) Serve over a roast and save some for a snack later. Recipe adapted from thecafesucrefarine.com.
With the weather starting to cool down, it's time to whip out the soup recipes. With a healthy dose of pears and vegetables, this soup is something different to put on the table and can be served hot or cold (for when the temperatures return to the '80s). For the crisps, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle grated white cheddar into 2-inch rounds. (Make as little or as many as you like.) Bake until cheese is slightly darkened, 15 to 18 minutes. Using a paper towel, blot to absorb any grease and let cool until firm. For the soup, heat 3 tablespoons oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, cook 1 medium peeled and diced carrot, 1 medium peeled and diced onion, 1 medium peeled and diced potato and ½ teaspoon thyme leaves (fresh is preferable, but dried is fine) with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally so that the vegetables do not brown. After about 5 minutes, when the onion is soft, add 4 medium diced zucchini and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until everything is tender. Add 2 medium peeled, cored and diced pears and cook for another 5 minutes until they're soft. Add 4 cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil, seasoning for taste. Pour soup in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve. Recipe adapted from the New York Times.