Grilled Stuffed Pears

Pears grilled and stuffed with quinoa and cheeseWhen it comes to summer grilling, pears are often overlooked. But the fact is their hardy texture is ideal for standing up to the intensity of the grill, and as they cook, their delicious flavor is enhanced by the smoky flames. Grilled pears can be prepared in both sweet and savory ways: think grilled pear halves topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, or sliced grilled pears tossed in a summery salad. Here they are cooked on the grill until just tender and juicy, with a quinoa salad stuffing that evokes flavors of the Mediterranean. Extra-virgin olive oil, Spanish-style chorizo, and fresh mint add a bold, summertime flare, while white balsamic vinegar adds a sweet, fruity tang to complement the flavors found in the grilled pears. Serve these at your next backyard barbecue, for an outside-the-box appetizer or entrée.

Serves 4 as a main course, or 8 as an appetizer

4 USA Anjou pears
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (sometimes labeled “golden” balsamic vinegar)
1/3 cup chopped dry-cured Spanish chorizo
1/4 cup sliced or coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup crumbled feta
8 cups baby arugula

Put the quinoa in a small saucepan and add 1 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, still covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Drizzle in the olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the hot quinoa to coat evenly, then spread it out on a platter to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the chorizo, almonds, scallions, and mint and gently toss to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Prepare a hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill, or preheat a stovetop grill pan until smoking hot. Grease the grill grates with oil.

Meanwhile, cut the pears in half. Using a round metal spoon, such as a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon or a melon baller, remove the core plus a little extra flesh. Rub the pears on all sides with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt.

Grill the pears on the cut sides until deep grill marks appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the pears over and fill them with the quinoa stuffing, piling it on in a big heap in the center of each one. Sprinkle the tops with the feta. Close the grill lid and continue grilling until the pears are tender when pierced with a fork and the feta topping is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears. If they seem to be cooking too quickly on the bottom before they become tender within, simply move them to a cooler part of the grill and continue grill roasting, with the lid closed, until they are cooked through.

Serve the hot grilled pears over the arugula, finished with a drizzle of olive oil over the pears and greens.

Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken, Pears, and Coconut

mulligatawny-soupThis autumn inspired version of Mulligatawny soup is sure to delight. Colorful pears, tender chicken, sweet potatoes, and rich coconut milk star in this adaptation of a classic English soup with Indian origins. The recipe comes together in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner, and the leftovers taste even better. Top the soup with crunchy toasted coconut and bright, fresh cilantro leaves.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon butter, divided
1 pound chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 ½ teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound sweet potatoes, medium dice
2 firm USA Pears, such as Concorde or Comice, medium dice
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

Directions:
In a large soup pot over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the diced chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until just cooked through. Transfer chicken to a small bowl. Add the remaining butter to the same pan and saute the onion until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and all three spices and saute for one minute more. Next, add the chicken broth to deglaze the pan, stirring to pick up any browned bits. Add the diced sweet potatoes to the liquid, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for 6 – 8 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Add the diced pears and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more. Stir in the coconut milk and season the soup to taste with more salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the soup between bowls and garnish each with the toasted coconut and cilantro.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Creamy Gouda and Pear Risotto

Creamy Gouda and Pear Risotto SM

If you haven’t yet made risotto part of your regular dinner repertoire, this recipe will help to change your mind. While it’s true that risotto requires a little bit of attention, it’s the perfect match for roasted meats, which require almost no attention at all. Try this creamy version, packed with the fall flavor of pears and spiked with aged Gouda cheese (you know, the one with those delicious cheese crystals), alongside the simplest roasted chicken. You won’t be sorry!

Ingredients
4 cups (1 box) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium shallots, small dice
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 ounces aged Gouda, such as Beemster Vlaskass
1 firm ripe USA pear, halved, cored, and very thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Directions
Pour the broth into a medium saucepan, cover, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce to low heat to keep warm. Melt the butter in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until translucent. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring often, until the rice is lightly toasted. Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring to pick up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to cook for about one minute until nearly evaporated. Add about one cup of the hot broth to the pan and cook the risotto, stirring occasionally, until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add another half-cup of broth and repeat. Continue adding the broth half a cup at a time and stirring frequently until absorbed. Check the rice often for doneness—it may not require all four cups of broth. Once the rice is al dente, stir in the grated Gouda cheese and allow it to melt. Lastly, stir in the thinly sliced pears and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warm bowl and serve immediately.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings

Asian-Style Pork and Pear Lettuce Wraps

asian-pork-lettuce-wrap

Here is a perfect no-fuss summer dinner for a busy evening. These pork and pear lettuce wraps require just 20 minutes from start to finish and are full of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors. Serve them with a simple and fresh cucumber salad dressed with rice wine vinegar for a lovely and complete meal.

Ingredients
12 cup-shaped lettuce leaves, from about one head lettuce
1 pound ground pork
½ cup finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons grated ginger
3 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, to your taste
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Anjou or Green Bartlett, small dice
½ cup roasted and salted cashews, roughly chopped
4 scallions, sliced thinly

Directions
Pick 12 nice lettuce leaves, wash them, shake or spin dry, and place in the refrigerator to crisp. In a wide sauté pan over medium heat, cook the ground pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Once the pork is cooked through, transfer to a medium bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan (any additional fat can be discarded). Reduce the heat to medium low and add the chopped shallots to the hot fat. Fry the shallots, stirring often, until golden brown. Add the grated ginger and and stir to combine with the shallots.

Next, carefully pour in the mirin. Allow it to cook for about one minute, or until it forms a syrupy glaze. Return the pork to the pan along with the lime juice and fish sauce. Stir well to combine and taste for seasoning. The fish sauce will act as the salt in this recipe. Allow the mixture to cook for just one minute more to be sure it is thoroughly heated. Lastly, turn off the heat and add the diced pear and the cashews (you may reserve some for garnish, if desired). Divide the mixture between the lettuce cups and garnish with the scallions and remaining cashews. Serve with your favorite Asian chili sauce.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 4 servings

Grilled Pizzettas with Pears, Shaved Ham, and Fresh Basil

pizzetta

Cooking pizza on the grill is an excellent way to keep your house cool in the summer and still enjoy one of your favorite dinners—and it’s easier than you think! This recipe makes four individual pizzettas, so everyone can enjoy their very own. You’ll lightly crisp one side of the pizza crusts, flip them, top them, and cook them until they’re done to your liking. Fresh USA Pear slices, shaved ham, and fragrant basil make the perfect summer toppings for this lighter (but no less delicious) version of this beloved meal.

Ingredients
1 ball (16 ounces) store-bought pizza dough
Flour for rolling out dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
4 ounces best-quality shaved ham
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Green or Red Bartlett
Several stems fresh basil leaves

Directions
About an hour before you’d like to eat, remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide it into four equal portions. Gently shape each portion into a ball and set on a cutting board, covered loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough soften for about 30 minutes before you proceed.

After 30 minutes, preheat your grill to medium heat. While the grill heats, start working on the dough. One at a time, lightly flour each piece of dough and press it out into an approximately 6-inch disk with your fingers or a rolling pin. Set the dough aside until ready to grill. Next, get all of the toppings ready to go and in one place—you’ll want to have everything ready for topping the pizzettas. Place the olive oil in a small bowl with a brush, grate the mozzarella, and slice the pears. Now you’re ready to head out to the grill!

First, brush the grill with olive oil to prevent sticking. Now carefully lay the pizza dough out on the grill, either two or four at a time. Close the grill and allow the dough to cook for 3-4 minutes. Once the crusts are firm on the first side, flip them to the second side using a large spatula. Brush each crust generously with olive oil and top with the cheese, shaved ham, and pears. Close the grill cover again and allow the pizzettas to cook for 3-5 minutes more until done to your liking. Transfer the pizzettas to a cutting board and top with the freshly torn basil leaves. Slice and serve immediately.

prep time: 25 minutes
yield: 4 servings

Roasted Pear Pasta with Cinnamon and Feta

Roasted Pear Pasta with Cinnamon and Feta sm

Here is a wonderful, warming pasta dish full of unique flavors. Roasted pears, cinnamon, feta cheese, and toasted pine nuts make for a surprisingly delicious combination, and this meal comes together in a snap. You’ll fill your kitchen with the aroma of sweet, roasting pears and spicy cinnamon before you get your first bite of this creamy pasta. Enjoy this dish as a meal on its own, or pair it with a simple green salad dressed with Pear and Roasted Carrot Vinaigrette.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons butter
3 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Bosc or Red Anjou, cut into ½-inch slices
12 ounces penne pasta
1 tablespoon salt (for the pasta water)
½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for dusting
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small, microwave safe dish. Spread the pear slices out onto a sheet pan, drizzle with the melted butter, and toss gently to coat. Roast the pears for 15-20 minutes or until just tender. While the pears are roasting, fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water plus 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and place over high heat to boil.

To toast the pine nuts, place them into a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and stir frequently until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

When the pasta water boils, cook the penne according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and return to the dry pot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cinnamon, feta, and pine nuts. Stir together to melt the butter and combine the ingredients. Lastly, gently stir in the still-warm roasted pears. Transfer the pasta to a platter or bowl and sprinkle with a few pinches of cinnamon to garnish.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: 4 servings

Shrimp Tacos with Pear and Cabbage Slaw

Shrimp Tacos with Pear and Cabbage Slaw sm

This taco recipe comes together quickly and is full of wonderful flavors. The shrimp filling is juicy, sweet and full of bright flavor from the fresh cilantro and mint, and the tangy crunch of the cabbage and pear slaw makes for the perfect topping. Make this recipe for a 30-minute weeknight dinner or serve it as part of a taco bar at your next party alongside grilled meats and various salsas.

Ingredients
Filling
1 cup of your favorite green salsa, spicy or mild
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and rinsed
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Slaw
½ a small head green cabbage, very thinly sliced
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Red Bartlett, julienned or diced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
¼ teaspoon salt

12 corn tortillas, warmed
Additional salsa verde for serving

Directions
For the filling: Place the salsa verde and honey into a large sauce pan and begin to warm over medium heat. Once the sauce is simmering, stir to distribute the honey and add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp, stirring often, until just pink and firm, about 4 or 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the chopped herbs, and set aside the filling until ready to use.

For the slaw: Combine the sliced cabbage and the julienned pears in a medium bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the top and sprinkle with the salt. Gently toss the ingredients to combine.

To serve, place a large spoonful of the shrimp into each warmed tortilla and top with the cabbage and pear slaw. Serve with additional salsa verde, if desired.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: 12 tacos

Pear, Sausage, and Fontina Calzones

calzones smSQ

You might find it hard to believe, but I consider calzones a quick weeknight-friendly dinner. So many grocery stores now carry pre-made pizza dough, which can simply be divided into 4 pieces to make calzones. Roll out the dough, fill it with your favorite savory sausage, shredded fontina cheese, and fresh, sweet chunks of pear, and then simply seal and bake. Serve the calzones alongside a simple green salad and you’ll have an elegant dinner ready in less than 45 minutes.

Ingredients
1 ball store-bought pizza dough (16 ounces)
Flour for dusting
8 ounces bulk OR 2 link sausages, any flavor, cooked if raw, and cut into bite-sized pieces (I used mild Italian pork sausage)
8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
1 ripe USA Pear, such as Bosc or Green Anjou, large dice

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape each portion back into a round. Set the dough aside on the counter to warm slightly, covered with plastic wrap. Cook your sausage if you purchased it raw. If bulk, divide the sausage into bite-sized balls and fry in a little olive oil. If you chose links, simmer the links in water for 5 minutes until firm, rinse under cool water, and slice. Gather all of your ingredients to fill the calzones: sausage, shredded cheese, diced pears, and a small bowl of water for sealing the calzones.

Dust a cutting board lightly with flour and roll out one ball of dough into an approximately 8-inch circle. Fill with one-quarter of your filling ingredients, placing them all in one half of the circle. Dip your fingers in the bowl of water and carefully dot water along half of the dough’s edge. Gently fold the calzone in half and seal the ingredients inside. For an extra-protective seal, dot water along the top of the semi-circle and fold the dough back onto itself, pressing it with the tines of a fork or pinching into a decorative, scalloped edge. Carefully transfer the calzone to a lightly oiled sheet pan. Follow the same directions for the other calzones, being sure to leave 2 inches of space between each calzone on the sheet pan. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve the calzones while still warm from the oven.

prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes
yield: 4 calzones

Spice-Roasted Chicken and Pears

spice roasted chicken and pears RGB

Here is a satisfying cold-weather main dish with a short prep time. Ripe pear slices and warming spices add a new twist to a classic roasted chicken dinner. Serve this dish with a pot of steamed Basmati rice and simple salad (dressed with Pear and Roasted Carrot Vinaigrette, perhaps?).

Ingredients
One 3.5 – 4 pound roasting chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4 – 8 dried Thai bird chiles, crushed (or substitute a few pinches of chili flakes)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Red Anjou or Bartlett, cut into 8 – 10 slices each

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cut up chicken into a large bowl, patting it dry with paper towels if necessary. In a small bowl, combine the spices, chiles, ginger, lemon, sugar and salt and mix to combine. Pour the oil over the chicken and toss to coat. Add the spice mixture and the pear slices and mix gently to distribute. Spread the chicken and pear mixture out into a 9 x 13 baking dish in a single layer, placing the chicken pieces skin-side up. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Serve immediately with the pear slices, pan juices, and spices spooned over the top.

prep time: 15 minutes plus roasting time
yield: 4 servings

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Pears, Radicchio, and Brown Butter

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Pears, Radicchio, and Brown Butter

Here is a simple weeknight pasta dish full of fall’s flavors and colors. The sweetness of the ripe pears plays wonderfully together with the bitterness of the radicchio. Adding tangy, rich Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (get the real stuff for this recipe!) takes the dish to a whole new level. Serve this pasta as a meal in and of itself, or use it as a side dish for a simple roasted chicken.

Ingredients
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons salted butter
1 head radicchio, cored and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Green Bartlett or Starkrimson, sliced
⅓ cup chopped hazelnuts
3 ounces (about 1 cup very loosely packed) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions
Place the pasta water on to boil, adding 1 tablespoon of salt to the cooking water. Once the water boils, add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions. In the meantime, place the butter in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until the butter is beginning to brown lightly and become fragrant. Add the radicchio to the browned butter and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just until wilted. Turn off the heat and add the sliced pears, gently stirring to combine.

When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it in a colander. Add the hot pasta to the sauté pan with the sauce and toss with tongs to combine. Transfer to a bowl or platter and garnish with the cheese and hazelnuts.

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