Pears

Fruit of the Week: Pears

Food & Drink /


Tips and tricks for making the most out of this often neglected fruit

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more

       

Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, gives us the lowdown on a particular seasonal vegetable or ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. This week it’s pears.

Fruit of the Week: Pears

The pear is often overlooked as the slightly wonky, bell-bottomed and misshaped version of the more popular apple. They can often become neglected as they lack the crunch and excitement that comes with a Jazz or Pink Lady – but pears are so much more than just a sidekick fruit and hold their own pretty well. They’re most commonly known for being hero-ed in the French classic combination of chicory, walnut and Roquefort, but pears also lend themselves to fresh Asian flavours.

Pears have a more mellow flavour and softer complexion than apples, which means they pair well with stronger spices such as anise, cardamom or cinnamon. Alternatively, you can glaze them in a pan with brown sugar and butter until the skin is perfectly caramelised and the inside is sweetened as you bite into it. Pears aren’t just for sweet dishes either: they can also shine in savoury dishes: beef, prosciutto and pork all go well with this fruit.

As a standard rule, pick seasonal ingredients that are grown around the same time for the perfect pear pairing such as squash, parsnips, kale and celeriac. Treat your pear like you would a fine tannic-strong wine and combine with soft matured cheeses, nuts or dark chocolate.

When in your local superstore or farmer’s market, there are three varieties to look for. Firstly​ the Doyenne du Comice, best enjoyed raw in all its sweet buttery goodness or shaved into salads (both of the fruit or heavily-green-salad variety). Secondly, the Conference​ for its clear white flesh that loves being baked or poached in heavily spiced red wine baths, or the ​Concorde​ – the love child of the previous two that inherits the best traits from its parents and lends itself to an-all-round aromatic fruit with an unexpected crisp complexity. Failing that, the Williams is always a classic British choice and can be found lining the supermarket shelves in all its speckled skin glory.

When using pears, give them a quick nibble first to see if they need peeling. If the skin easily gives between your teeth, leave it on – this will add an extra layer of texture and flavour. Alternatively apply gentle pressure to the neck: if it gives way it’s ready to eat. Pop in the fridge to slow the ripening process down and allow you extra time to enjoy them at their juiciest – or slice them up and enjoy in a cake like below.

Recipe: Pear, Brown Butter and Olive Oil Sheet Cake

Pear tart, Bettina Campoluci-Bordi

Serving: 1 whole tray

Ingredients

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 120g soft brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 scraped vanilla pod, or 1⁄2 tsp vanilla paste or extract 3 pears (sliced)
  • Handful of chopped chocolate chunks
  • Generous sprinkle of brown sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients (except the pears, chocolate and brown sugar) together in a bowl, then stir through the chocolate chunks.
  3. Cut the pears in half and slice them thinly into half-moons.
  4. Line a rectangular baking tray (approx size 37 x 26.5cm) with greaseproof paper and pour in the cake mix.
  5. Cover with a layer of sliced pears, then add a generous sprinkle of brown sugar over the top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

MORE FROM BETTINA:

Lemons / Kale / Forced Rhubarb