Summer Showdown!

As the summer months come to a close and fall is on the horizon, it’s back to school! This August marks the inaugural year of Kids Eat Right Month from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The idea is that as summer draws to a close and kids head back to the classroom, we need to focus on healthful eating and an active lifestyle. In light of the obesity epidemic and what this suggests for the future, the campaign focuses on children, but it’s a healthy reminder for all of us!

USA Pears MerchandiseWe all need to shop smart, cook healthfully, and eat well. I start with fruits and vegetables; they are at the core of every meal and snack I have. My tricks are easy for busy adults and kids! On weekends I shop and pre-package my fruits and veggies, so I can just grab and go during the week. This means tossing salad mix into containers; dicing, slicing, and bagging veggies; placing fruit in easy-to-reach spots; and pre-portioning dips, sauces, and dressings. Then, I can just grab some carrots or pepper slices and a dip—hummus or peanut butter being my favorites—and throw a pear in a pear packer. Even if I’m in a rush, I already have these handy and won’t stray to the vending machine in a stressful pinch! This is also key for busy moms – throwing together a healthy lunch your kid will love requires a very small amount of prep. Start fall with health in mind, and good health will follow!

Pear, Hoisin, and Sesame Glazed Beef

Pear and Sesame-Glazed Beef

This recipe is a riff on classic Korean barbecued ribs. Pears provide most of the sweetness for the marinade, with the toasty flavor of sesame oil and a hint of savory garlic coming through. If you can’t find cross cut ribs, this sauce is equally delicious on beef or pork kabobs. After marinating, grill these beauties over a hot fire and serve with steamed rice and a side of kimchi or a simple cucumber salad seasoned with rice vinegar.

Ingredients
12 beef ribs, kalbi-style (sliced across the bone)
¼ cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons mirin
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Bartlett or Bosc, quartered and cored
3 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium clove garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
For garnish
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions
Wash the ribs in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place into a large, shallow baking dish in a single layer. In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Pour the marinade over the ribs, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for between 4 and 24 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the ribs, preheat your grill to medium high. Cook the ribs for 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness, or until they are nicely grill-marked and cooked through. Transfer the ribs to a platter and sprinkle with the scallions and sesame seeds.

prep time: 25 minutes plus marinating time
yield: 4 – 6 servings

Find Your Farmer

fruits and veggies

Summer is the perfect time to find fresh fruits and vegetables, including some you may have never tried! Farmers’ Markets are in full swing, and the abundance of summer produce may surprise you. Along with fruits and vegetables, many markets also offer local meats, eggs, cream and butter, honey, flowers, spices and herbs – along with products distinctive to your area! What’s nice about going to a local market is these ingredients are in season and at their ripest, meaning most delicious and bursting with nutrients; plus, you can find fresh ideas to inspire your staples. For instance, I always have lettuce on hand – romaine, arugula, maché – and with all the fresh produce available, I’m able to come up with fresh, new ideas! This weekend, I made a salad with fresh arugula, prosciutto, lemon, sliced grapes and pears, shaved parmesan, and a splash of olive oil…  So light and refreshing! Tonight’s dinner includes fresh squash on the grill drizzled with locally harvested honey and topped with grilled pear and melon slices – delicious!

Interested in seeing what your local farmer has? Check out these links for ideas!

http://www.localharvest.org/

http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/

Creamy Pear Popsicles with Kiwi and Lime

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These delightful summer popsicles have just four ingredients: whole ripe pears, kiwi fruit, coconut water, and lime. Creamy and sweet-tart, they contain fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The pears, coconut water, and lime are pureed to make a luscious, pale green base and then chunks of kiwi are added at the end to put the bright green “pop” in popsicle. These summer treats are sweetened with fruit only, so go ahead and have another!

Ingredients
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Anjou, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1 ⅓ cups coconut water
2 whole kiwis, peeled, quartered, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces

Directions
Place the pear slices, coconut water, and lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds, filling them about half way. Divide the kiwi chunks between the molds and then top with the remaining puree. Freeze the popsicles until firm.

prep time: 10 minutes
yield: 6-10 popsicles

Pear Pecorino Ravioli

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The sweetness of the pears complements the salty and creamy cheese filling of these easy ravioli. Serve with a crisp white wine.

Ingredients              
1 Bartlett USA Pear, peeled and cored
⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon minced fresh sage
Freshly ground pepper
1 package medium wonton wrappers
Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons shredded fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped raw, peeled pistachios

Directions 
Grate the pear into a bowl using a box grater. Using your hands, squeeze out and discard any accumulated pear juice. Add the pecorino, mascarpone, yolk, minced fresh sage and a few grinds of pepper to the pear pulp and stir until thoroughly combined with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Place 10 wonton wrappers on a work surface and put a teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, moisten the wrapper around the filling. Top each wrapper and filling with another wonton wrapper and gently press and shape the top wrapper around the mound of filling, working out to the sides and pushing out any air. Repeat until all wrappers are filled.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add half of the ravioli and cook until they float, about 2 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the ravioli to a plate, making sure the ravioli are slightly spread apart. Repeat to cook the remaining ravioli.

In a large skillet, melt the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the sage and cook until it stops sizzling and butter begins to turn brown. Turn off the heat and add the pistachios. Transfer the ravioli and brown butter sauce to a large mixing bowl and gently toss until coated. Serve immediately.

prep time: About 20 minutes
cooking time: 10 minutes
yield: Serves 4

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Korean Barbecue Beef

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Pear juice adds sweetness and helps to tenderize the beef in this bulgogi dish that is traditionally cooked over a grill. You can serve it with rice, in a lettuce wrap or try it fusion style in a taco or burrito.

Ingredients              
1 pound lean stir-fry beef, such as flank steak or sirloin cut across the grain, very thinly sliced
1 ripe Bartlett USA Pear, peeled and cored
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 chopped green onions
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
2 sliced green onions

Directions 
Grate the pear in a large bowl or if it’s soft enough, mash it. Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, soy sauce, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, and black pepper. Stir to combine and add the beef, coating it completely. Cover the bowl and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Drain the beef from the marinade using a strainer or colander.

Heat a large no-stick or cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until it is hot. Add enough beef to cover in one layer and stir fry, until the meat is completely cooked through, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions before serving.

prep time: About 10 minutes
cooking time: 6 minutes
yield: Serves 4

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Pear and Roasted Carrot Vinaigrette

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I often see salad recipes that include pears in their ingredient lists, but it’s rare to see a salad dressing that uses fresh pears. I created this dressing as a way to utilize ripe pears and to bring sweetness to a salad dressing without any added sugar. The roasted carrots give this dressing a nice, rich flavor, and the champagne vinegar balances the sweetness from the pears perfectly.

This vinaigrette is very versatile—I first served it over a simple green salad of garden lettuces and fresh pears. The next day I tossed some of the leftover dressing with a mixture of cooked and cooled brown rice, canned black beans, and spinach for a quick lunch. The last few tablespoons made the perfect dipping sauce for simple barbecued chicken. I’ll be making this recipe again as soon as the pears on my counter are ripe!

Ingredients
1 medium carrot, cut into ½-inch pieces (to make 1 cup of chopped carrot)
2 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 ripe USA Pear, such as Green or Red Bartlett
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup cold water

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the carrot chunks into a small baking dish and toss with 2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil. Roast the carrots for 25-30 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Once the carrots are cool enough to handle, place them into a blender with all of the remaining ingredients except the oil. Puree the mixture until well combined. Lastly, add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a slow, thin stream through the hole in the blender’s lid. Store the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

prep time: 35 minutes
yield: 1 ½ cups of dressing

Caramel Pear Galette

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Easier than pie! This free form fruit tart is terrific with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of crème fraiche. 

Ingredients
1 refrigerated pie crust (9-inch)
3 tablespoons of caramel sauce, divided
3 ripe Red or Green Anjou USA Pears
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon granulated or turbinado sugar

Directions 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring pie crust to room temperature as directed on package. Unroll the pie crust on a non-stick or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread one tablespoon of caramel topping on the crust, leaving a 1 ½-inch border.

Peel, quarter and core the pears. Slice each quarter lengthwise into 4 even slices. Place pear slices in a bowl and toss with cinnamon and flour. Starting in the center, arrange the slices on the dough in a spoke pattern, in overlapping layers as necessary to fit and leaving a 1 ½-inch border. Drizzle the pear slices with 1 tablespoon of caramel topping. Fold the edge of the crust over the tart. Brush the top of the crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 30 minutes or until crust is lightly brown. Let galette cool 10 minutes. Drizzle top of the fruit with the remaining tablespoon of caramel topping before serving.

prep time: About 15 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes
yield: Serves 6

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Grilled Pork Chops with Pears and Rosemary Butter

Grilled-Pork-Chops-with-Pears-and-Rosemary-Butter

Here is a satisfying recipe that can be made outside on the grill in under thirty minutes. The pork, pears, and rosemary butter are all wrapped up into foil packets, which results in an incredibly tender pork chop that creates its own amazing sauce while it cooks. These grilled pork chops with pears would make a great summer dinner on a hot day alongside some grilled corn on the cob, but they will also make for an equally amazing meal this fall with roasted squash on the side.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus four sprigs for garnish
4 bone-in pork chops, about 6 ounces each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red onion, sliced into ⅛ inch rings
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Anjou, sliced into ¼ inch pieces

Directions
Stir the softened butter together with the minced fresh rosemary and place in the refrigerator to firm up. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Place each pork chop onto its own rectangle of aluminum foil. Season the chops generously with salt and pepper on both sides. On top of each chop, layer a slice of onion followed by three or four pear slices. Add another layer of onion and then more pear slices on top.

Divide the rosemary butter between the chops, placing it on top of the onion and pear so it will melt down onto the pork. Top each stack with a sprig of rosemary. Carefully wrap the foil up around each chop and seal at the top. Place the packets onto the grill and cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through. Transfer the chops to plates and pour over any liquid that remains in the foil packet.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: 4 servings

 

Baked Stuffed Pears

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Tangy cranberries, walnuts, ginger, and cinnamon complement the sweet and spicy Bosc pear. Perfect for baking, Bosc pears hold their elegant shape.

Ingredients              
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
3 Bosc USA Pears
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut each pear lengthwise, scoop out the core with a melon baller, and expand the opening to about 1 ½ inches.

In a small bowl, blend the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Mix in the walnuts, cranberries, and ginger. Spoon the filling into the centers of the pears. Place the filled pears in a baking pan just large enough to hold them snugly.

In a small bowl whisk together the honey, water, and lemon juice. Pour around the pears in the baking dish.

Bake until the pears are tender when pierced, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool and serve with the pan juices.

prep time: About 20 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes
yield: Serves 6

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.