Ah pears… soft and juicy, crisp and fresh, baked with cinnamon, poached in wine or paired with rocket or a piquant Balsamic, there is little you can do – except squash all over my bag – to stop me from adoring you.
Hailing from the Caspian Sea region of western Asia, pears are an ancient fruit that have nourished people since prehistoric times. Celebrated for their sumptuousness by the Romans, pears spread throughout Europe where they grew well in its temperate regions.
Pears soon became a firm favourite in countries like France, England and Belgium, where pears popped up not only in the best kitchens but in the paintings of masters and poems of the poetic in an ever frequent rate. They were taken to Asia and the New World, where their popularity was confirmed by how well they grew there. Today there are well over 5,000 known varieties, though only around a dozen are available commercially in Australia.
One of the least allergenic foods available, pears are excellent as a first food for young children and for those who are ill or have digestive problems – though remove the skin if someone has a particularly sensitive digestive system. They are very alkaline, cleansing to the body, high in water-soluble fibre and a rich source of potassium and folic acid.
And to me, pears represent the divine within the simple. They always seems so ordinary but I’m always stopped in my tracks when I taste one, marvelling at their flavour and ability to wow me.
You can simply sprinkle with cinnamon if you don’t want to use maple syrup or oil and you’ll still get a wonderful flavour and yummy sauce. That said, the syrup and oil adds a layer of decadence and creates an impressive dessert for very little effort.
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp macadamia nut oil
½ tsp cinnamon
- preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
- cut each pear in half, then quarter it on an angle to cut out the core
- mix the syrup, oil and cinnamon in a bowl and brush it liberally over the pears
- cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until soft. Take off the foil and bake a further 10 minutes to carmamelise the pears.
These make a delicious dessert drizzled with cashew cream or a chocolate sauce, can happily be served over pancakes or French toast and are delicious sliced and added to bircher or toasted muesli.
When I recently served these pears for dessert, I made a vegan custard from Jude Blereau’s Wholefood cookbook, which complimented them beautifully.
2 tbsp kudzu (or real cornflour)
250ml rice milk
125ml coconut milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- put the kudzu in a pan and add a quarter cup of rice milk and mix until it makes a smooth paste
- slowly stir in the remainder rice milk, coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla (if using a pod, cut down the centre lengthways, scrape out the seeds with a butter knife into the saucepan and then add the pods)
- place over a medium heat and stir constantly until just boiled and thickened. This can take near ten minutes so be patient. It will start to look almost transparent when it is nearly ready
- remove the vanilla pod and serve.