Focusing on pears while the best of the season are still here

An oat-and-almond crisp with pears
This quick, easy oat-and-almond crisp shows off pears, autumn’s most underrated and versatile fruit.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

As a recipe developer, I’m always in a state of seasonal discombobulation. When you’re in one season, I’m thinking about the next one, planning recipes for holidays and seasonally specific produce that isn’t quite available just yet. Back when I worked in magazines, I’d be working on Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes in June and July, so by the time the actual holidays came, the food didn’t feel as novel.

Working at a newspaper, with a shorter lead time, has thankfully shortened that window considerably, so that only now, in the middle of October, am I roasting turkeys and baking pies for Thanksgiving. (Although with the temps in the 90s on the day I’m writing this, it might as well still be July.) In any case, the thing I’m focusing on the most right now, in between all the late-November recipe work, is cooking with as many in-season-now pears as possible for pleasure.

I recently became something of a pear convert, so I’ve been making this chopped salad every other day to enjoy them over salad greens. Los Angeles is a deeply pear-loving place, judging by the lightly scolding emails I’ve received since I proclaimed my late-stage love for them, so I’m here to give the people what they want.

In addition to that salad, I’ve been enjoying this uber-autumnal roast Brussels sprouts dish teeming with pears and Black Forest ham. I’ve got this savory pear clafoutis recipe saved up for a socially distant brunch with friends next weekend, perfectly portable in individual ramekins. And then, to scratch that baking itch, there is my former colleague Genevieve Ko‘s caramel pear crisp, which couldn’t be simpler to throw together or tastier to eat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. And since I like to eat my cake for breakfast, this moist pear cake spiced only with fresh ginger will be the perfect thing to have with my morning coffee until I replace it in a week with leftover slices of not-quite-there pumpkin pie.

Chopped Pear Salad With Buttermilk Dressing

Time15 minutes
YieldsServes 2

Cubes of Gruyère, cut the same size as Comice pear, add heft to this relatively light salad drizzled with tangy buttermilk dressing.

Sweet-and-salty Black Forest ham and fragrant pears balance out the roasted Brussels sprouts in this easy fall side dish.

Savory Pear Clafoutis

Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4

The pear’s sweetness balances this creamy, rich clafoutis, perfect to eat on a relaxing weekend morning.

Caramel Pear Crisp

Time1 hour
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Oat and almonds add crunch to these baked pears, scented with freshly ground cardamom.

Frog Hollow's pear-ginger cake

Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 8

Fresh ginger brightens this homey pear cake made with brown sugar and buttermilk.

Ask the cooks

How do I keep candied citrus peel from getting hard and inedible?

— Chris Guiton

Because candied citrus peels are, by their nature, firm and preserved, you may think they can sit out at room temperature forever and not go bad. But they’re not dehydrated; there’s still a little moisture left in them or else they’d crack your tooth when you ate them. So they need to be in an airtight container, just like brown sugar, or else they will dry out. To prevent against this, I like to store mine in excess sugar in a container I know is fully airtight. You can also pick up one of those clay disks made for storing in brown sugar to help the candy retain its moisture and firm-but-tender texture.

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