Fall for Pears

— Written By and last updated by Adrian Gaskins

Fall for Pears

Pears are generally ready and ripe to pick in our region in late summer and early fall. Pears are not heavily produced in North Carolina but many of us remember a pear tree or two in our Grandparents yards. We certainly produce enough that you can find them at your Local Farmers Market.

The pear provides many health benefits, including being a good source of fiber and of vitamin B2, C, E, copper, and potassium. They also contain a significant amount of pectin, which is a water-soluble fiber. Pears also have anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen glutathione which help prevent high blood pressure and stroke.

So go pick a pear and give these recipes a try;

Pear Bread Pudding

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

3 teaspoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

5 slices soft whole-wheat bread, each cut in half

2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 pound thinly sliced Cheddar

Heat oven to 375º F. Butter a 9-inch square pan.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, butter, and salt until small bubbles form. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, then add the warm milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

Layer the square pan with the bread. Top with the pears. Pour the milk-egg mixture into the baking pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Top with the Cheddar, if desired, and bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4, each serving serves: Calories 519, Calcium 410mg, Carbohydrate 61g, Cholesterol 261mg, Fat 23g, Fiber 5g, Protein 21mg, Sodium 626mg.

Pear and Walnut Muffins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)

1/3 cup whole wheat flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (8-ounce) carton plain fat-free yogurt

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups finely diced peeled pear

Cooking spray

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400°. Place walnuts in a food processor; process until finely ground.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in ground walnuts. Make a well in center of mixture.

Combine brown sugar and the next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a small bowl; add to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in diced pear.

Spoon batter into 15 muffin cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle batter with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pans immediately. Place on a wire rack. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Serves 15, each serving contains: Calories 149, Fat 4.9g, Protein 3.1g, Carbohydrate 23.9g,

Fiber 1.3g, Cholesterol 14mg, Sodium 191mg, Calcium 76mg.

Pear and Bacon Grilled Cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons currant or fig jam

2 slices white sandwich bread

2 slices Cheddar

2 slices cooked bacon

1/4 small pear, thinly sliced

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Spread the jam on 1 slice of the bread and form a sandwich with the cheese, bacon, and pear.

Cook the sandwich, covered, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Pear Crumble

Topping

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup whole-wheat or all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 tablespoons canola oil

Filling

3 1/2 pounds ripe but firm pears, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F. To prepare topping: Combine oats, walnuts, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Drizzle with oil and stir until evenly moist.

To prepare filling: Combine pears, maple syrup, raisins, flour, lemon juice and ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the pears.

Bake the crumble until the pears are tender and the topping is golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the topping (Step 2) and filling (Step 3), cover and refrigerate separately for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before assembling and baking.

Serves 14, each serving contains: Calories 257, Fat 9g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 46g, Protein 3g, Fiber 5g, Sodium 7mg, Potassium 279mg.

Gingersnap and Pear Cheesecake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps (about 40 cookies)

2 small ripe pears (any kind), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and crushed gingersnaps. Press the mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan, working the crumbs over the bottom and then up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss the pears and ginger. Line the cooled crust with the pears, overlapping the slices slightly. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until combined. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the pears. Bake until the top is barely set but still slightly wobbly, about 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack but leave oven on.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the remaining sugar and vanilla. Pour over the cheesecake and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serve 8-10, each serving contains:Calories 430, Fat 26g, Cholesterol 100mg, Sodium 316mg,

Carbohydrate 45g, Fiber 1g, Sugar 31g, Protein 5g.