Pear, Pistachio & Parmesan Pinwheels

PinwheelsYou’ll be the host with the most when you present these warm, flaky hors d’oeuvres to guests on New Year’s Eve. Diced USA pears are rolled up in puff pastry, with crunchy pistachios, piquant Parmesan, and a kick of cracked pepper, creating bite-sized bursts of flavor. Deceptively simple to prepare, and sweet and savory at the same time, they make the perfect cocktail accompaniment.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup finely diced USA Red Anjou or Bartlett pear (about ½ a large pear)
¼ cup ground pistachios
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Place the pastry sheet on a clean work surface and roll it out to smooth the seams and create a 10-inch square. Cut the square in half, forming two 10-by-5-inch rectangles. Brush the entire surface of each half of the pastry lightly with some of the beaten egg. Leaving a 1/2-inch border along a longer edge of each rectangle, sprinkle with the pears, pistachios, Parmesan, and pepper, dividing each ingredient evenly between the two.

Starting at the long side opposite the plain border, roll up each pastry like a jelly roll, pressing gently to seal the ends, creating a long log. Wrap each log individually in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

To bake, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat it to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut each pastry log crosswise into about 24 round pinwheels. Arrange the pinwheels on the lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake until the pinwheels are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom in the oven about halfway through.

Cool briefly on the pans, and serve warm. Makes 48 hors d’oeuvres.

Ditch the Guilt

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It’s Sunday morning and you splurged too much on food or drink last night. You’re tired, unmotivated, and guilt creeps in from not making the best choices. Sound familiar? The truth is we all splurge sometimes, myself included, and we need a plan – especially with the holidays approaching – to ditch the guilt and get out of the splurge cycle!

As a dietitian, I feel like I work with guilt almost as much as I work with improving eating habits. Unfortunately, too many of us associate eating habits or what the mirror displays with self-worth and confidence. We are more than what we eat! Here are some steps I review with my clients (and sometimes myself!), give it a try! First, reflect on the occasions when you splurged. Would you take back the entire day or night, the time spent with friends, or the experiences you had? Probably not, so stop obsessing and forgive yourself. Second, stop telling yourself you should eat a certain way and that you’re a failure when you don’t. Instead, focus on eating healthfully and exercising to feel better. Third, start with the next bite. Most people count diet by days, when diet is everything we put in our bodies over time. Weeks are a much better measure of health, so let’s find balance over the next few days. Fourth and finally, increase your fruits and vegetables. Not only do fruits and veggies provide nutrients, fiber, and water, but they are the foundation for leading a healthful life. In the end, it’s never too early or too late to feel better, so start right now!

Stuffed Avocado with Bay Shrimp, Pear, and Mango

This stuffed avocado recipe is both simple and elegant. Begin with sweet and salty bay shrimp, and add crunchy pears and tropical, ripe mango to provide great texture and flavor. Bright, fresh lime juice plays perfectly with the creamy, rich avocado, and a pop of fresh mint will bring it all together. Serve this salad for lunch on a warm day, or alongside some grilled meat at your next barbecue.

Stuffed AvocadoIngredients
8 oz. bay shrimp
¼ a red onion, finely minced
1 firm ripe USA Pear, small dice
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 small handful fresh mint leaves, torn
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, pear, mango, and lime juice and gently stir to combine. Add the oil and salt, and toss to coat. Gently mix in the torn mint at the last moment. Divide the mixture between the four avocado halves, filling the cavity and allowing the extra shrimp salad to overflow onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Smoky Red Pear and Grilled Corn Salsa

USA Pears are back in season, and this unique late summer salsa is the perfect way to show them off! Adding a few pinches of cumin lends the salsa a gentle smokiness which balances the honey-sweetness of the pears. Serve this salsa with your favorite tortilla chips or use it to generously top grilled chicken or pork.

red pear salsa
Ingredients
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 tsp. neutral flavored oil, such as grapeseed
½ a medium sweet onion, small dice
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
2 firm ripe red USA pears, such as Starkrimson or Red Bartlett
1 lime (for zest and juice)
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
Preheat your grill to medium. Drizzle the oil over the corn and rub to coat with the oil. Once the grill is hot, cook the corn for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until hot and blistered in spots. Set the corn aside until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, cut the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife. In a medium bowl, combine the corn, sweet onion, jalapeno, and pears. Zest half of the lime and add it to the salsa, then halve the lime and squeeze the juice over the ingredients. Add the cumin, salt, and cilantro, and gently toss to coat. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and serve.

Prep time: 35 minutes
Yield: 3 cups salsa

Pear, Carrot, and Coconut Muffins

Pear, Carrot, and Coconut Muffins SM

Here is a fun fall take on the classic morning glory muffin, a popular recipe published in Gourmet Magazine back in the 1980s. These muffins are chock-full of fruit, vegetables, and nuts, making them hearty and filling, but they retain a soft, light texture, as any great muffin should. They will keep very well in the refrigerator and reheat wonderfully thanks to their high moisture content. If you prefer your muffins warm from the oven, you can even mix up a batch and bake off just a few at a time, saving the remaining batter for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
1 ½ cups finely diced pear (from about 2 ripe USA Pears, such as Bartlett)
⅔ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¾ cup neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or safflower
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the carrot, pear, coconut, and walnuts to the flour mixture and stir gently to coat the fruit and vegetables. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the dry and stir gently until no dry pockets of flour remain. Line a muffin tin with papers and fill each cup ¾ full with the batter. Sprinkle each muffin with a little demerara sugar. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

prep time: 15 minutes
yield: 12-16 muffins

Barbecue Pork, Pear, and Cheddar Quesadilla

Barbecue Pork, Pear, and Cheddar QuesadillaHere is a quick quesadilla recipe that makes great use of leftover pork, ripe autumn pears, and cheddar cheese. The combination of these three ingredients is so delicious, it just might become your favorite afternoon snack. These quesadillas are a great use of leftover ribs from your favorite barbecue joint. If you’ve never made your own barbecue sauce, try your hand at Pear Barbecue Sauce with Chiles and Spice to use for this recipe and double the pear punch!

Ingredients
6 ounces cooked, shredded pork
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, plus more for dipping
4 flour tortillas (8-inch size)
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1 large, ripe USA Pear, such as Bartlett or Anjou, sliced
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the shredded pork with the barbecue sauce and microwave for 1 ½ – 2 minutes to warm. Set aside until ready to use.

Lay out two of the tortillas in a single layer on a sheet pan. Sprinkle the tortillas with half of the cheese. Divide the warm pork between the two tortillas. Next, arrange the pear slices around the tortillas as evenly as possible, and then top the pear slices with the remaining cheese. Lastly, place the remaining two tortillas atop the cheese layer and transfer to the oven.

Bake the quesadillas for 10-12 minutes, or until the tortillas begin to crisp lightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and slice into quarters. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with more barbecue sauce for dipping.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 4 snack-sized servings

Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Avocado Toasts

Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Avocado Toasts SM

This recipe takes two of everyone’s favorite things, pears and avocados, and combines them to create a beautiful and satisfying meal or snack. A nice alternative to a mayonnaise-based chicken salad, this recipe uses mashed avocado and lemon to bring the ingredients together. Enjoy these open-faced sandwiches for lunch or divide the topping between slices of toasted baguette and arrange them on a platter for an elegant appetizer.

Ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 large or 2 small avocados
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Bartlett, thinly sliced
6 – 8 slices artisan bread, toasted
Micro greens, for garnish

Directions
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Once the grill is hot, cook the chicken breasts for about 5 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to cool slightly. Take half of the avocado (either one small or half of the large) and place in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Mash with the back of a fork until smooth, and season with salt and pepper. Dice the remaining avocado and the chicken breasts and add to the bowl and stir to combine. Lastly, add the sliced celery and pears and toss gently. Toast the bread lightly. Top each slice of toast with about one-eighth of the chicken and pear mixture. Arrange the open-faced sandwiches on a platter. Drizzle each one with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and top with micro greens for garnish.

yield: Serves 8
prep time: 10 mins
cook time: 10 mins

Pear Bread with Brown Butter and Cardamom

Pear Bread with Butter and Cardamom

Got ripe pears? This pear bread recipe is simple to make and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. The loaf is lightly spiced with cardamom and made moist and sweet with the addition of two ripe USA Pears. Browning the butter in a small saucepan before mixing up the batter gives this bread a wonderfully nutty flavor. Enjoy it as an easy breakfast, pack it into lunchboxes, or have a slice with a cup of afternoon tea.

Ingredients
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett
1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions
Place the butter into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter begins to sizzle, cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the butter has taken on a golden brown color and smells nutty. Remove the pan from the heat and set the brown butter aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan by greasing it with butter and dusting it with flour. In a medium bowl, combine the brown butter and sugar and stir well to thoroughly combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Grate the pears on the large holes of a box grater and add them to the wet ingredients as well.

In a second small bowl, combine the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together gently just until the flour is moistened – do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake the pear bread for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

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.

Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Pears and Creamy Cheddar Dressing

Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Pears and Creamy Cheddar Dressing
Here is a a beautiful and fresh take on a classic salad combination: fruit, nuts, and cheese. Toasted hazelnuts are the perfect match for sweet, ripe pears, and finely grated vintage cheddar cheese adds plenty of interest to the classic buttermilk dressing. Serve this salad as a unique accompaniment to any winter holiday meal. The crisp, fresh winter vegetables will make a perfect partner to a Thanksgiving turkey or any other roasted meat and the pears are a healthy and colorful addition.

Ingredients
Salad
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 small head radicchio, chopped
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
2 USA Pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett, cored and sliced
⅓ cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
Dressing
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup finely grated vintage sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
½ teaspoon salt
Several turns of freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Place the chopped lettuce and radicchio into a large bowl of ice water to crisp, and set aside for 15 minutes. The dressing can be prepared in the meantime (see below). After 15 minutes, drain the lettuce and radicchio and spin until dry. Add the sliced celery and pears, and gently toss. Divide the salad among six plates and spoon the dressing over the top. Sprinkle each serving with the chopped hazelnuts.
cheddar dressing

For the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a pint jar and shake vigorously to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: 6 servings