Organic Winter Pears
By Mark Mulcahy
You’ve seen Melissa's organic pears in your produce department for a few months, but there’s something special about pears this time of year.
Many excitingly different produce items are ready for good winter eating: Sweet Potatoes, Navel Oranges, Satsuma Mandarins - the selection goes on and on. Something that you don’t want to overlook is the selection of winter pears. Yes, you’ve seen Melissa's organic pears in your produce department for a few months, but there’s something special about pears this time of year.
Red and Green d’Anjou’s
have long been the standard for all winter pears due to their versatility and wonderful flavor. You may know that they are good to eat fresh, but did you know that the Green d’Anjous are fantastic poached and served with pancakes? The reds are wonderful in salads or as a perfect partner to a Saturday afternoon cheese platter. Yes, some of us still like to stop during the day - to enjoy the fading afternoon sun, sip a cup of tea or glass of cabernet and savor the special treat of cheese and fruit paired together. It's not hard to do - it just takes making a little time to slow down and enjoy. To make a platter, start with cheeses you know - I recently tried Gouda and Camembert - and you’ll soon find out which ones complement the sweet flavor and firm texture of the pear you choose.
Don’t want to eat a lot of cheese after the holidays? Try a salad made from some green and Red d’Anjous, romaine hearts, a handful of bulk pecans, a sprinkling of bleu cheese and some dried cranberries, and you’ll have a dish that will make any day a little more special.
Are you getting hungry?
How about Melissa’s Bosc Pears
This bronze-colored beauty with the long slender neck is another winter favorite. Its dense, yet buttery flesh makes it perfect for a pear pie or a special sandwich. That’s right, a sandwich! If it seems as if I can make a sandwich out of just about anything, it's true - but pears aren’t that big of a stretch if you start to think about their texture and flavor. To take away any wintertime blues, try this Grilled Cheese and Pear Sandwich adapted from a recipe I’ve adapted many times over the years.
Grilled Cheese and Pear Sandwich
1 Bosc Pears
, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 sprig Rosemary
, cut in half
4 slices Country Loaf or Multigrain Bread, about ¾ inch thick
3 ounces Bleu Cheese, room temperature
3 Tablespoons Butter
¼ cup Port
Soften the cheese a little with a sandwich spreader or knife so that the cheese will spread easily on the bread. Spread a thin layer of cheese on one side of each slice of bread. Place several slices of pear on 2 pieces of the bread (on top of the cheese). Finish with another piece of bread on top (cheese on the inside of the sandwich).
Add butter to a large nonstick sauté pan on medium-low heat. Bruise the sprig of rosemary with the back of a knife. Add to the pan. Cook the rosemary for 1 to 2 minutes to infuse the butter. Carefully remove the rosemary and discard. Add the sandwiches to the same pan. Press lightly with a spatula. Cook sandwiches until bread is golden on the outside and cheese starts melting, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat. Keep warm.
In the same pan over medium high, add the port. Reduce by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cut in halves. Drizzle evenly with the port reduction. Serve.
If you don’t like bleu cheese or want to make a simpler version, try broiled Bosc pears on toast with Swiss cheese and topped with fresh arugula leaves. Your family or friends will never look at a grilled cheese sandwich the same way again.
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy winter pears; all it takes is Melissa’s organic pears, a little time, and your imagination.