Pears are underrated in my opinion. They always play second fiddle to their popular and patriotic cousins, the apples. Nobody says, “A pear a day keeps the doctor away,” or “as American as pear pie.” But for me, pears are a little bit of heaven!
A ripe pear and a piece of good cheese is a snack that cannot be beat. Pears sliced or diced in a salad with gorgonzola crumbles, red onion, and walnut pieces is a divine accompaniment to a fine cut of meat. And one of my favorite desserts is simply a pear cut into bite-size pieces with a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta, a handful of chopped walnuts and a drizzle of Nocello (walnut liqueur).
Pears can be grilled, carmelized, roasted, poached, pureed or dipped in chocolate. The subtly sweet, soft texture of a pear is truly a beautiful thing. Here is a favorite of mine that makes a simple, but satisfying, meal paired with a soup or salad.
Grilled Cheese with Pear
This recipe is a combination of three similar ones from Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, and Martha Stewart. I don’t have a panini maker, so I use a grill pan. They each use a different type of cheese, but I am partial to the Fontina. Martha uses butter, where Giada and Rachael use olive oil. Giada adds fresh arugula or spinach and Rachael adds fresh sage which are all wonderful. I also like to include her carmelized onions if I am not in too big a hurry. Martha includes ham in her recipe (and so do I), but the other two chefs don’t find it necessary.
- 8 slices of ciabatta or other good bread
- butter or olive oil to spread on bread
- 2 ripe pears, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. of Fontina, Gruyère, or other melting cheese
- 1 lb. of deli sliced ham (optional)
- 3 oz. arugula or spinach (optional)
- or 2 oz. chopped fresh sage (optional)
- carmelized onions (optional)
- Layer 4 slices of bread with 8 ounces cheese, 1 thinly sliced pear; the optional sliced ham, arugula or spinach, sage, onions; top each with bread.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread outside of both bread slices with butter or oil. Cook sandwiches in batches, if necessary, until golden and cheese is melted, flipping once, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Cut sandwiches in half and serve hot. Enjoy with soup or salad!
This sampling of pear recipes makes use of a variety of techniques and runs the gamut from sweet to savory for a full array of pear deliciousness!