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

Summer Arrivals: Get Inspired!

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I don’t know about you, but I have been waiting for summer to start for months. We have had so much rain and so many cool days in Denver that it has felt more like April than July. But summer is finally here and that means longer days, fresh fruit, and summer entertaining! Summer is the most wonderful time to explore your local grocer or farmers’ markets for bright colors and fresh flavors. Whether a couple of friends stopped by after work or you’re planning a dinner party for twelve, having fresh fruit handy will make you the host with the most.

Personally, when I go all out I decorate the table with all sorts of fresh flavors, put together a fresh spritzer or cocktail, and serve piles of grilled fruits and veggies. But if you’re having an impromptu gathering, try laying out any fresh fruit – raspberries, blueberries, freshly sliced pears – add some walnuts and a little cheese, then drizzle with honey. Or fire up the grill and top with fresh veggie or fruit skewers. Don’t be shy, add anything to these skewers! Perhaps you and your friends need to gab about work over a cocktail after a long day at the office? That’s easy, too, have seltzer, fresh fruit and herbs on hand to add pop to any beverage. Summer is in full swing, so get inspired!

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

Pear and Blueberry Pie Bars

Pear and Blueberry Pie Bars

These delicious pear and blueberry pie bars have all the wonderful flavors of a fresh-baked summer pie, but require much less work as well as less oven time. Whip up a batch for a potluck or even as a weeknight dessert (just add vanilla ice cream). Store the extra bars in the fridge—they make an easy and delicious breakfast or a grab-and-go snack—not to mention they contain fiber and antioxidants, thanks to the fresh pears and blueberries.

Ingredients
Crust
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla
Filling
3 slightly underripe USA Pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 pound blueberries
Streusel Topping
¾ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
⅔ cup old-fashioned oats

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper (this will make the bars much easier to remove from the pan later). Combine all of the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse about 10 times until the mixture has a mealy texture. Scatter the meal in an even layer across the bottom of the pan and then press it firmly into place to form the crust. Dock the crust with a fork all over to prevent rising, and place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, peel and slice the pears and toss them very gently with the lemon juice. When the crust comes out of the oven, allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the streusel topping. For the streusel, combine all of the ingredients except the oats in a food processor and pulse about 10 times. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and add the oats, thoroughly combining them into the mixture using your hands. Transfer the streusel topping to the refrigerator to chill.

While the streusel chills, assemble the filling by first laying the pear slices out on top of the crust in a single layer. They may overlap slightly if necessary. Next, scatter the blueberries over the pears evenly. Lastly, crumble the chilled streusel over the top of the fruit. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the blueberries are bubbling and the streusel has lightly browned.

Allow the bars to cool for at least 30 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan. For best results, cool the bars fully before slicing into squares (but of course you’ll want to try a few while they’re still warm!). Store in the refrigerator.

prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 60 minutes
yield: 18 servings

Pear Barbecue Sauce with Chile and Spice

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Here is a simple and rewarding recipe you can make and use all summer long. The ingredients are simple, but the flavors are both complex and balanced. Guajillo chile is tangy and bright, but never too spicy. Cinnamon and fennel add a nice warm spice flavor which balances perfectly with the pears, and the tomato, vinegar, and dark brown sugar give this recipe a classic flavor base.

Using the pears for body and sweetness makes it possible to cut down on the sugar dramatically, and this barbecue sauce contains fiber, too! Slather this sauce on chicken wings or spare ribs during their last 10 minutes on the grill, or use it as a substitute for store-bought barbecue sauce in a pulled pork or brisket crock pot recipe.

Ingredients
2 dried guajillo chiles
Boiling water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium sweet onion, large dice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Red or Green Anjou, large dice

Directions
Toast the chiles in a hot skillet on both sides, pressing down on them with a spatula until they just begin to lightly blister. Transfer the chiles to a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Place a smaller bowl on top of the chiles to weigh them down, filling it with water as well, and set aside to soften.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and salt and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. At this time, add the whole fennel seeds and continue to cook the onion and fennel together for about an additional five minutes, or until the onion is beginning to lightly brown. Next, add the cinnamon and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomato and cinnamon are beginning to toast on the bottom of the pan and become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, the brown sugar, and the diced pears and stir to combine. Lastly remove the guajillo chiles from the water and pull off their stems. Tear the chiles open lengthwise and remove all of their seeds, rinsing them under water if necessary. Tear the remaining chile flesh and skin into about 2 inch pieces and add it to the sauce mixture. Stir and cover the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Once it simmers, reduce the temperature to low and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the pears are very soft.

Once cooked, uncover the sauce and allow it to cool for 20-30 minutes before pureeing. Puree the sauce in a blender, scraping down the sides as necessary, until very smooth and uniform. Divide the sauce between three half-pint jars or other glass containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks or in the freezer for several months.

prep time: 25 minutes plus cooking
yield: about 2 ½ cups sauce

Black Rice Salad with Cherries, Pears, and Gouda

Black Rice Salad with Pears sm

This simple and hearty salad is full of fresh fruit and contains fiber. Its lightly sweet flavor comes from the ripe pears, cherries, and just a touch of fresh-squeezed orange juice in the dressing. It also features wonderful savory notes courtesy of the rice, gouda cheese, and walnuts. Put them all together and the result is a beautiful salad full of unique flavors, colors, and textures.

Try this salad for dinner on a hot summer day. Cook the rice and roast the onions in the morning and you’ll only need 10 minutes to complete this dish in the evening. Serve the salad alongside something simple from the grill, or as a vegetarian meal in and of itself.

Ingredients
Salad
1 small sweet onion, large dice
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cups cooked and cooled black rice (or use any type of rice you like)
20 black cherries, halved and pitted
3 ounces gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
⅓ cup walnut pieces
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, medium dice

Dressing
¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from about one orange)
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon salt

Directions
Note: You will need to prepare and cool the rice before starting this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the diced onion in a small baking dish and toss with the tablespoon of canola oil. Roast the onion for 25-30 minutes, stirring once during cooking. Remove and allow to cool. In the meantime, prepare the dressing by combining the ingredients in a small jar and shaking vigorously. Set aside until ready to use. In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cooled rice, roasted onion, halved cherries, gouda, walnuts, and pear slices. Shake the dressing again to combine and pour over the rice mixture. Gently toss the ingredients together. Serve the salad at room temperature or return to the refrigerator to store and serve cold.

prep time: 40 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings

Creamy Pear Popsicles with Kiwi and Lime

Creamy Pear Popsicles with Kiwi and Lime smSQ

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 and Roasted Carrot Vinaigrette

Pear and Roasted Carrot Vinaigrette 1 sm

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

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

 

Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Pears and Sweet Onion

Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Pears and Sweet Onion SM

These delicious and juicy burgers are perfect for a summer cookout. Firm-ripe USA Pears, sweet onion, ground turkey, and fresh thyme come together to make a quick and easy dinner. Creamy goat cheese and more pear slices top these fresh and light turkey burgers for a nice change of pace from a traditional beef burger. Throw some zucchini and red peppers on the grill, and the meal is complete! Make a double batch of these burgers and freeze the uncooked patties between sheets of waxed paper for a quick dinner down the road.

Ingredients
¾ pound ground white turkey
¾ pound ground dark turkey
1 firm-ripe USA Pear, such as Bartlett or Anjou, medium dice
½ a medium sweet onion, medium dice
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for brushing
For serving
4 burger buns of your choice
Whole grain mustard
6 ounces chevre (goat cheese), at room temperature
1 ripe USA Pear, such as Bartlett or Anjou
Leaf lettuce

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, diced pear, onion, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix gently with your hands until combined. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Brush the patties lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. You can refrigerate the burgers at this point until ready to grill.

When you’re ready to cook the burgers, preheat your grill to medium heat. Once hot, grill the burgers for 5-6 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Spread the bottom bun with mustard and place a burger on top. Top each burger with a lettuce leaf and ¼ of a pear, sliced. Spread each of the bun tops with ¼ of the soft goat cheese and assemble to complete the burger.