Six Simple Habits for the New Year

Woman Texting In Kitchen

A new year brings many things, a fresh start, a year of possibilities, and broken resolutions… We often set lofty goals and envision working out every day looking cute in our gym outfits, not the sweaty messes we really are. Visions are easy, reality is usually harder. Picking a healthy habit to work toward, rather than a resolution, might be simpler and more realistic. Give it a shot!

1. Make a plan. Whether you want to exercise more or lose fifty pounds, have a plan in place. Make it simple, such as walking 20 minutes twice a week or prepping meals on Sundays. Simple is easier to stick to and gives your schedule more flexibility.

2. Add a fruit or veggie. It’s not news that Americans don’t eat enough fruits and veggies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 13% of Americans eat the recommended 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 9% eat the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables. Keep it simple: pick up a pear or some baby carrots to munch between meals.

3. Move more. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested inactivity may impact health more than obesity! But you don’t have to run a marathon, or run at all, to be active. If you don’t currently exercise, work steps into your day or walk 30 minutes each week. If you’re already active, add one more workout each week. Small steps lead to big changes.

4. Don’t like exercise? Grab a buddy! Working out with someone may increase motivation; it may even improve intensity or performance. I have a gym buddy: We motivate each other to exercise and have much more fun doing it. For someone who used to be obese and hated exercise, I actually look forward to our work outs now!

5. Dust off your knives and cook a little. You don’t have to win Chopped to get a little creative in the kitchen. Plus, cooking with friends or family may improve dietary quality and enjoyment of meals. And if you’re preparing food at home you’re less likely to grab take out, right?

6. Finally, get back up again. Everyone has fallen short of goals or fallen off the wagon – sometimes many times. Life isn’t suddenly better when you reach the top, so stop beating yourself up. Get back up, brush yourself off, and jump back on that wagon. Happy New Year!

Delicata Squash, Pear, Arugula, and Pomegranate Salad

Delicata Squash, Pear, Arugula, and Pomegranate Salad SM

Here is an elegant, seasonal, and colorful first course for your Thanksgiving meal. Sweet roasted delicata squash rings make the perfect base for filling with this bright salad of arugula and thinly sliced pears. Drizzled with a creamy toasted pecan dressing and sprinkled with jewel-like pomegranate seeds, this salad will please everyone invited to your table this holiday season.

Ingredients
Creamy Toasted Pecan Dressing
½ cup pecan halves, toasted
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup neutral oil, such as sunflower oil
Salad
1 large delicata squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 firm ripe USA Pear, such as Green Bartlett or Concorde
½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces baby arugula
¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Directions
For the dressing: Place the toasted pecans into a blender or food processor and pulse until they become a fine powder. Add the honey, sugar, lemon, vinegar, and salt and puree until combined. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil to emulsify the dressing. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the salad: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Trim the ends off of the squash and cut into 6 evenly sized rings. Remove the seeds and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Arrange the squash in a single layer and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is just cooked through. In the meantime, slice the pear into a fine julienne either by hand or using a mandoline. Place in a large bowl and toss with the ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. Add the arugula and gently toss to mix. When the squash is done, transfer to individual plates and fill each ring with a generous handful of the arugula and pears. Drizzle each salad with the pecan dressing and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds.

prep time: 50 minutes
yield: 6 servings

Autumn Panzanella Salad with Pears, Butternut Squash, and Hearty Walnut Bread

panzanellaBased loosely on a traditional panzanella salad which combines garden fresh tomatoes with crusty bread to soak up the juices, this savory autumn panzanella features ripe, in-season pears, roasted butternut squash, and hearty walnut bread. Serve this salad throughout the fall and winter while pears and squash are abundant. It will also make a delicious and colorful addition to your Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups of cubed squash)
2 large shallots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil for roasting squash PLUS 2 tablespoons for the salad
Salt and pepper
4 cups cubed whole grain walnut bread from your favorite bakery
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Bosc or Red Anjou, medium dice
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cubed squash, sliced shallots, and 3 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the squash is soft and the shallots are beginning to brown. While the squash roasts, use a serrated knife to cut the bread into ½-inch cubes as well. Spread the bread cubes onto a second baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast the cubes lightly, for 5-7 minutes total, while the squash roasts. Allow the squash to cool slightly (or to room temperature) and then transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the squash with the additional 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup. Toss gently to coat. To the bowl, add the toasted bread cubes, dried cranberries, diced pears, and parsley. Toss the mixture together gently once again and transfer to a large platter or bowl. Sprinkle the shaved parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.

prep time: 45 minutes including roasting
yield: 6 – 8 servings

Pear, Fig, and Salami Salad

pear fig salami salad

This salad of pears, figs, greens, salami, and cheese is full of subtle flavors that celebrate transition from summer to fall in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy it with simple pork chops cooked on the grill or a lovely fillet of roasted salmon.

Ingredients
Dressing
¼ cup fresh orange juice (from about half an orange)
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon toasted almond oil
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salad
4 cups baby arugula, packed
2 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise and sliced into ½ inch strips
10 – 12 fresh figs, halved or quartered
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Red Bartlett or Starkrimson, sliced
3 oz. mild salami, cut into ¼ inch cubes (or salami slices, cut into strips)
¼ cup ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

Directions
For the dressing: Combine the first four ingredients in a blender. Combine both the oils in a measuring cup and with the blender running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream to emulsify the dressing. Set aside until ready to use.

For the salad: In a large bowl, combine the arugula and sliced endive and toss with about ⅔ of the dressing. Transfer the greens to a platter and place the figs and pears decoratively on and around the greens. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the fruit. Top the salad with the salami, followed by the crumbled cheese.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings

Autumn Concorde Pear Salad

Concorde Pear Salad

This salad, created by Chef Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant in Boston, spotlights the distinct vanilla flavor in Concorde pears against savory fennel and celery root to refresh the tried-and-true combo of greens, nuts, and cheese.

Ingredients
Vinaigrette
¼ cup moscato vinegar or champagne vinegar
1-½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ shallot, finely minced
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad
2 Concorde USA Pears, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
½ small celery root, peeled, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 head endive, halved, then cut in ¼-inch thick slices on bias
1 cup watercress
¼ cup blue cheese
¼ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
Whisk the vinegar, mustard and shallot together. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Gently toss the sliced celery root and fennel with the endive. Add the sliced pears and watercress and gently toss again, to evenly distribute the ingredients. Crumble the blue cheese over the top, add the walnuts and ¼ cup of vinaigrette and toss gently to coat all of the ingredients.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide between 6–8 plates and serve immediately.

yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Kale and Pear Salad with Lime-Yogurt Dressing

kale and pear salad with lime-yogurt dressing

I’ve been dreaming about how I could create a kale and pear salad for some time now, and I think I’ve come up with the perfect combination. If you’ve yet to find a kale salad you love, try making this one, which calls for baby kale, the young, tender leaves of the plant. Toss the baby kale with sweet, ripe pears and my lime yogurt dressing, and then add texture and color with freeze-dried corn, salty pumpkin seeds, crumbled cotija cheese, and the bright pop of pomegranate seeds. If you find fresh pomegranates are unavailable, use freeze-dried seeds – you can often find a small section with a variety of freeze-dried fruits and veggies at a natural foods store. Store them in your pantry, and you’ll be enjoying this salad all summer long!

Ingredients
Dressing
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
⅓ cup grapeseed oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Salad
5 ounces baby kale
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Bartlett, Red Anjou, or Green Anjou
⅓ cup freeze-dried corn
⅓ cup pumpkin seeds (without hulls)
⅓ cup crumbled cotija cheese
¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Directions
For the dressing: Place all ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously.
For the salad: Set aside about half of the cotija cheese and the pomegranate seeds for garnish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently with about ⅔ of the dressing. Reserve the remaining dressing for drizzling on the salad, if desired. Sprinkle the tossed salad with the crumbled cheese and the pomegranate seeds and serve.

Chicken Salad with Pears, Bacon, and Avocado

chicken salad final

Spring is here, and I’m so relieved! By the end of winter I always feel utterly empty when it comes to cooking ideas, but show me a few blooming flowers and some 60-degree temperatures and new thoughts come flooding in.

I’m so grateful that we can get pears nearly year-round, and USA-grown Anjou pears are not only easy to find, they have a super juicy and bright flavor that is perfect for spring recipes. My new recipe is inspired by spring and is full of beautiful shades of green – sweet Anjou pears, crisp endive leaves, creamy, ripe avocado, and crunchy chopped pistachios.

This recipe will serve you well for many spring occasions. It would be a perfect addition to an Easter or Mother’s Day brunch, or make a lovely appetizer for a baby or bridal shower. Use store-bought rotisserie chicken and this lovely recipe will come together in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients
2 heads Belgian endive
4 pieces thick-cut bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1 ½ cups cooked chicken breast, diced
2 firm ripe Anjou USA Pears, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Directions
Trim the bases from the endive and separate the leaves. Set aside until ready to use. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, setting aside 1 tablespoon each of the bacon and pistachios for garnish if desired. Gently toss the ingredients together until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the individual endive leaves and arrange on a large platter, leaning the leaves up against one another to steady them. Lastly, sprinkle the remaining bacon and pistachios over the stuffed endive for garnish.

prep time: 30 minutes
yield: about 20 stuffed leaves

Pear and Celery Salad

Pear and Celery Salad heroHere is my modern take on a classic: pears and blue cheese in a salad. There are so many ways to use these two perfectly paired ingredients together, but this recipe combines them to create a side dish with perfect flavor, texture, and richness.

I use crunchy celery as the salad’s base and include the tender inner celery stalks as well as the celery leaves – they have a delicious and light flavor that I adore. Beautiful, ripe pears are tossed in, adding tenderness and a honey-sweet flavor. A simple, light lemon vinaigrette glazes the celery and pears, and finally, the salad is topped with blue cheese crumbles and bits of savory, salty Marcona almonds.

Serve this salad alongside simple roasted chicken or fish and prepare to be delighted.

Ingredients
Dressing
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about one lemon)
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup olive oil
Salad
1 bunch of celery, including inner stems and leaves, sliced thinly on a diagonal
2 USA Pears, such as Red Anjou or Starkrimson, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
⅔ cup Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Directions
For the dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

For the salad: In a large bowl, combine the sliced celery and pears with half of the chopped almonds and blue cheese. Add approximately half of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Taste the salad, adding more dressing if desired. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and sprinkle with the remaining blue cheese and almonds.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 6 servings

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

A Seasonal Salad from Hilary Finch Hutler

I’m pleased to introduce a brand-new contributing blogger here at The Pear Dish, personal chef and recipe writer Hilary Finch Hutler. Read on for a quick Q-and-A with Hilary and her first recipe, a gorgeous end-of-summer salad!

Hilary oysterWelcome, Hilary! Tell us about yourself.
I am a personal chef and recipe writer here in Portland, Oregon and I blog at tummyrumblr.com. I grew up in Eugene and worked in many restaurants as well as on a produce farm. Naturally, I fell in love with all of the produce that Oregon has to offer.

 

How did Tummyrumblr start?
After several years of working as a personal chef, I stopped relying on recipes and started cooking based more on intuition and seasonality. I realized that I had been creating recipes for years but that I hadn’t been writing anything down. Tummyrumblr is a place to keep and share my favorite recipes. I have amassed almost 200 recipes there over the last 5 years.

How have you grown your passion for food and recipe development? Who do you cook/plan for besides yourself?
I think Western Oregon is the perfect place to be a chef. We get to experience all of the seasons, but we lack a deep, cold winter. This means we have a very long growing season, and with the exception of a few months there is new produce sprouting up constantly. There is always a new ingredient to cook with, and a new recipe to be tried, so it’s easy to stay interested in cooking.

At work, I cook for a family of five with wildly diverse food preferences. They keep me on my toes! At home I keep it simple. Locally raised meats, Pacific fish and shellfish, eggs, vegetables and fruits.

What’s the best dish you’ve ever eaten?
I was a vegetarian for about seven years. When I entered culinary school a chef said to me, “You really ought to think about tasting some of the meat we will make, because if you don’t, you will be missing out on a big piece of what you can learn here.” A few weeks later, I tried a bite of grilled lamb chops. I had never eaten lamb that I knew of, and I never looked back. Grilled lamb is still one of my favorite things.

What’s your favorite thing about pears? Favorite pear variety?
Pears have such incredible variety in color, shape, and flavor. My goal as a recipe writer for USA Pears is to create recipes that will highlight the individual characteristics of the different pears, and for me that is a really exciting challenge! My current favorite pear is Starkrimson. They are all over the farmer’s markets and grocery stores right now and they are stunningly beautiful!

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IMG_0108Red Bartlett, Sweet Corn, and Strawberry Salad

This is the perfect salad to honor the arrival of the early-ripening Red Bartlett pear. This sweet and juicy pear makes a delightful and colorful side dish when combined with summer corn, tart strawberries, and fresh basil. Serve this salad with any type of grilled meat or fish – I chose a simple fillet of salmon, but barbecued chicken or pork chops would also make a wonderful pairing. Be sure to grab the ingredients for this beautiful salad before they’re gone!

Ingredients
4 Red Bartlett USA Pears, medium dice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 ears sweet corn
1 pint strawberries, medium dice
20 fresh basil leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Place diced pears into a large bowl and toss gently with the lime juice. Place a medium pot of water on the stove to boil. In the meantime, shuck the corn and cut the kernels off of each cob with a sharp knife. Once the water is boiling, slide all of the corn into the pot and cook for one minute. Transfer the corn in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and set aside to drain. Stack the basil leaves into two piles of ten each. Roll each pile up from the base like a cigar and slice into ⅛-inch strips. Unfurl into a pile of perfectly sliced basil. Add the corn, diced berries, sliced basil, and salt to the bowl with the pears and toss together gently. Serve the salad immediately.

prep time: 15 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings