All photos by Susan Axelrod
In the market, pears rarely grab my attention. For a mid-afternoon snack to eat out-of-hand, it’s easy to pass them by in favor of apples or citrus fruit. Part of the problem, I think, is that pears almost always need to ripen before you can eat them, and once they are ripe, you have to eat them in short order before they become a spotted, soggy mess.
For roasted pears, however, you want the fruit to be super ripe, to give its natural sugar a head start on the caramelizing that happens in the oven. Slathered with honey and spices, then baked “low and slow,” they become deliciously soft, with just the right amount of sweetness.
If you can turn on the oven and use a knife, you can make roasted pears. (Impress your friends!) Just know going in that although they’re quick to throw together, they take an hour to bake.
This simple recipe came to me by way of my fabulous mother-in-law, Joan, who we are hoping will someday join us to live in Maine. Joan was seeking out, preparing and eating organic food long before most of the rest of the country and her cooking always makes use of what’s in season. In the fall and winter, a bowl of roasted pears is usually sitting on her kitchen counter, ready to be eaten for breakfast with plain Greek yogurt or as a healthy dessert.
You could also serve the roasted pears with pound cake and vanilla ice cream or as I did this morning, cut into rough chunks as a topping for oatmeal.
4 very ripe pears (Joan generally uses Anjou; here, I used Bartlett)
2 tablespoons good-quality honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the pears in half lengthwise; remove the cores and stems
Combine the spices in a small bowl.
Rub the pear halves with honey and spices; place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for an hour, or until pears are softened and browned and the edges of the skin starts to curl.