Slice of Life: Cooking with pears

One of my favorite best childhood foodie memories was sharing the plate of sliced pears and cheese that my mom had waiting for me after a long day at grade school. I so loved the concept of sharing a healthy snack and continued the tradition with my boys. Finding out that not only were they lactose intolerant but allergic to pears (and bananas and a few other fruits I’d been giving them on a regular basis) put kind of a kink in my good mom armor. Needless to say they ate other stuff after school and I ate my pears all by myself.   My boys are now men, have moved on to other locations to feed themselves so I’ve decided to bring back the pear with a vengeance.

Pears are super delicious fall fruit that is related to apples and can often be substituted for them. Like apples, the color of the skin of the different varieties of pears range from yellow to green to brown and red or a combination of two or more of the colors. The inside fruit is dcream colored, juicy and runs the gamut from tart to sweet. They’re a terrific source of fiber and vitamin C. for only 100 calories per serving. Add to the fact that they’re sodium free, fat free, and cholesterol free and you have one excellent fruit.

Pears, like apples, come in a multitude of sizes and types. There are two main varieties, the bell shaped European varieties and the round Asian pears there most popular varieties available in your grocery or farmers markets include but are not limited to:

Anjou pears they are red and green, sweet can be cooked

Asian pears are round and crunchy, great raw

Bartlett’s are the juiciest of the pears, great raw, not for cooking

Bosc pears are great raw or cooked. These are the ones with brownish skin

Comice pears great raw.

Seckel pears are smaller, tart and have a green/red skin. Can be cooked

To find the best pears look for ones that give a little when pressed at their neck and have a slight floral fragrance. Most people don’t know that pears actually ripen off the tree and if they’re hard when you buy them they will soft soften when left at room temperature or stored in a sealed paper bag with a banana for a few days.

The following recipes are all yummy and can be used to introduce your youngsters to the joy of pears as well as reminding you that sometimes a simple plate of cheese and fruit is all you need to bring back the best of your childhood.

CARAMEL COATED PEARS (dairy or pareve)

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons butter or margarine
  • 2 medium firm ripe pears
  • sweetened whipped cream or pareve whipped  topping
  • 2 teaspoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350. In a small sauce pan combine sugar, water, and butter. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove the caramel mixture from heat and set aside. Peel and core pears, and cut pears in half lengthwise. Arrange pear halves, cut sides up, in a baking dish and drizzle the caramel mixture over the top of the pears. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until tender.  Place pear halves in dessert dishes; spoon 2 tablespoons of caramel mixture evenly over pears. Top with whipped cream and almonds.

Serves 2 to 4.

My files, source unknown


  • 3 ripe pears, cubed
  • 2 cups fresh mango peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups green cabbage sliced very thin
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 dash salt

In a large salad bowl combine the pears, mangos and cabbage. Toss to combine. In a jar with a tight fitting lid combine the vinegar, oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder and salt. Shake to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle the seeds over the top and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

My file, source unknown 


  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Bosc pear, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup Marsala

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add apple juice, red wine, vinegar, rosemary, thyme and crushed red pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Strain mixture into small saucepan; discard solids. Add cream and simmer until reduced to sauce consistency, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 2 teaspoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add pear slices; sauté until tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes. (Sauce and pears can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate. Rewarm pears over medium-low heat before serving.)

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and sauté until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Add Marsala and bring to boil. Stir in reserved sauce, turning chicken once to coat. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes longer.

Divide chicken among 4 plates. Spoons some sauce around chicken on each plate. Garnish with pear slices.

Modified from Bon Appétit April 1997