pears

Pear trees can produce fruit for up to 100 years.

What is juicy and sweet and a good source of vitamin C? If you guessed pears, you would be correct.

According to whfoods.com, pears are delicious fruits that are related to the apple and the quince. While there are thousands of varieties of pears with each differing in size, shape, color, taste and storage qualities, the Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou and Comice pears are the most commonly available types in the United States. Varieties such as Conference, Passe Crassane and Packham, which are popular in other countries, are also becoming more widely available.

Pears generally have a large round bottom that tapers towards the top. Depending upon the variety, their paper-thin skins can either be yellow, green, brown, red or a combination of two or more of these colors. The white to cream-colored flesh of pears is very juicy and sweet, while their textures are soft and buttery, yet slightly grainy. Like apples, pears have a core that features several seeds.

Pears have many health-related benefits with them. They are a good source of vitamin C, copper and is high in fiber, which can lower high cholesterol levels and is good news to people at risk for atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.

Pears are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. The reason for that is fiber also binds to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon, preventing them from damaging colon cells.

Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating three or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36 percent, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

Here are some pear recipes for you to try.



Salad

Frisee Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese, and Port Vinaigrette

Dressing:

1 cup port

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 shallot, finely minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:

8 cups loosely packed young frisee (curly endive), torn into bite-size pieces

1 1/2 cups ribbon-cut radicchio, soaked, drained, and dried

1 crisp red pear, halved, cored, and very thinly sliced crosswise

2-ounce chunk blue cheese, frozen

1 cup candied walnuts, or other candied nuts

Simmer the Port in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 tbsp. Let cool, then whisk in the red wine vinegar, shallot, salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. In a large bowl, toss the frisee, radicchio, and pear. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Drizzle with the dressing; you probably won't use it all. Using the medium holes of a box grater, shave the blue cheese in a fine snow-like shower over the salads. Scatter the walnuts on top and serve immediately.

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Side dish

Roasted Baby Pears with Herbed Goat Cheese

1/2 pound goat cheese

1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme, and chives

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 baby pears

12 slices bacon, about 1/2 pound, cut in 1/2

2 tbsp. honey

Arugula or dandelion greens, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375°. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, herbs, and 2 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Halve the pears and scoop out the seeds and cores. Stuff each pear half with about a tbsp. of the cheese. Wrap each stuffed pear with a slice of bacon and place it on a baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over the pears and season them with salt and pepper. Bake them until the pears are tender and the bacon is crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes. Place the pears onto a platter, drizzle with the honey, and garnish with the arugula.

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Side dish

Tray Baked Pork Chops with Herbey Potatoes, Parsnips and Pears

4 medium to large parsnips

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and sliced

4 pears, firm

Extra-virgin olive oil

Handful fresh thyme

8 to 10 cloves garlic, skins left on

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested

4 pork chops

Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large tray in the oven to heat while you prepare your vegetables. Wash and slice the parsnips into quarters lengthwise then slice the scrubbed potatoes into 1/2-inch thick pieces and wash and slice into quarters lengthwise and add to the roasting tray. Dry them with kitchen paper, then place the parsnips, pears, and potatoes in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. Add some chopped or pounded thyme, all the garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Then place in the hot tray to cook in the oven for 5 minutes. While vegetables are in oven, rub some thyme, lemon zest and seasoning onto chops. Then place them in the tray with the parsnips and potatoes and add the pears. Cook for around 30 minutes until the meat is tender and the vegetables are golden.

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Main dish

Blue Cheese and Brie Quesadillas with a Pear and Brown Sugar Compote

1 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 pound cooking pears, such as Bartlett, cored, quartered and small diced

Pinch salt

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. water

Quesadillas:

1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 pound Brie, thinly sliced

16 small flour tortillas

Vegetable oil, for pan frying

Walnuts:

1 cup walnut pieces

2 tbsp. ground cinnamon and 2 tbsp. sugar, combined

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar and cinnamon, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears and salt. Mix well. Cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Stir cornstarch slurry into pears and continue to cook for two minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Place 1/2-oz. of blue cheese and 1/2-oz. of Brie over half of each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over and press firmly. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of oil. Add a few quesadillas and pan-fry for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown and the cheese is melted, making sure not to crowd the pan. Pan-fry the rest of quesadillas in small batches. Fry walnuts for 1 minute. Remove and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Drain on paper towels. Slice the quesadillas in half and serve with the pear compote and walnuts.

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Dessert

Pear Gorgonzola Tart

1 store bought pie shell

4 oz. cream cheese

2 oz. Gorgonzola

1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Pinch salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. butter

3 small pears, cored and sliced

2 oz. prosciutto, cut into thin strips

Bake pie shell in a square or round tart pan according to package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, Gorgonzola, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Using a hand blender, whip the cheeses together. In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes. When tart crust has cooled slightly, gently spread the whipped cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart. Place the pear slices in a decorative pattern over the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the thin strips of prosciutto over the pears. Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

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Dessert

Pear and Cherry Buckle

1 (26-oz.) can cherry pie filling

2 (15-oz.) cans diced pears in syrup

1 tsp. almond extract

1 (18.25-oz.) box yellow cake mix

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

1 (1.19-oz.) packet maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Whipped topping, for serving

Spray a 5-quart slow cooker with butter-flavored cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine pie filling, pears, and almond extract. Pour into prepared slow cooker. Sprinkle cake mix over fruit mixture. Dot with butter. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal packet and almonds. Sprinkle over cake mixture. Place eight paper towels over slow cooker bowl and secure with lid. (This helps to trap steam.) Cook on low setting for 4 to 6 hours. Do not lift lid to check cake for the first 3 hours.

Serve warm with whipped topping.

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