Some fruits are the subject of children's TV shows, others are the muse of Beatles songs. Some claim to ward off the doctor, inspire the nickname of an entire country, or even have superfood powers.
And then there is the pear.
The quiet, humble pear. Whose shape is often mocked, but who just gets on with the business of being super-high in fibre and a rich source of potassium and copper, of all things. Still, nothing very sexy about the pear.
Pears create soft, subtle desserts that gently massage, rather than hit, the sweet spot.
Except pears are very easy to get along with. They complement virtually any other food, because they're sweet, but not too sweet, and flavoursome, but not overbearingly so. As a result, pears add just the right amount of sweetness to balance complex savoury dishes and create soft, subtle desserts that gently massage, rather than hit, the sweet spot.
It's fair to say that it's time the world started taking the pear more seriously. Here's how to start your new love affair.
Chopped green pear provides a little acidity and sweetness to cut through the rich, dark flavours of this Korean favourite. Koreans are happy pear consumers, using them in many dishes to achieve balance.
“Korean barbecue is made for groups of friends coming together to eat. All the marinating takes place before the guests arrive, side dishes and accompaniments are made, and then everyone gets incredibly hungry from the delicious aromas as the meat cooks. Chung Jae Lee is a former judo champion and a great ambassador for Korean food. He now works as a chef in the Northern Territory, where he has set up two restaurants serving his take on traditional recipes.” Maeve O’Meara, Food Safari Fire
Known as galbi jjim, this popular Korean dish is made for special occasions, typically served for guests or eaten on holidays such as Chuseok, the autumn harvest festival, as short ribs were traditionally very expensive. Unlike Western stews, galbi jjim's ingredients are meant to stay intact during cooking, with ‘jjim’ loosely translating as ‘steamed’. The grated nashi pear lends an underlying sweetness and is believed to help tenderise the beef. In aristocratic households, the ribs were once dressed with the five imperial colours (blue, yellow, red, white and black) to indicate wealth and prosperity.
Fatty pork, sweet pear and spicy mustard all mingle together rather nicely in this dish. A perfect winter dinner that can be prepared in stages and easily finished when you are ready to eat.
This could well be the perfect autumn dish. Mushrooms, chestnuts and pears (beurre bosc are good here) get sloshed on port and mellow completely out. You can practically taste the lush, mossy forest in every bite.
Parsnips and pears go particularly well together. It's like the dynamic relationship between beets and apples, turned down about 20 decibels. This is never better demonstrated than in this simple, warming soup, where the subtle pear sweetness is allowed to shine.
The tarte Tartin is famously made with apples, but in this recipe, caramelised pears show that pears can outshine apples whenever called for. The pleasant sweetness blends nicely with the sugared shortcrust pastry.
Maggie Beer's chocolate tart is sinfully rich thanks to almond meal, cream and pears. The pears are poached in Verjuice, with crushed bay leaves and a pinch of saffron adding complexity.
Crunchy and sweet, hazelnuts or cobnuts partner apples and pears perfectly in this autumnal, nutty, treacly tart.
This light but luscious tart uses a no-bake gluten-free crust that can be made a day ahead.
Adding pears into your brownie mix makes for a cake that's moist and just-sweet-enough. These gluten-free brownies are full of more good stuff like dates, eggs, almonds, Brazil nuts and 70% dark chocolate. They're practically a health food.
Find out how to make and serve this restaurant-level dessert in the comfort of your own home.
I’ve taken my favourite fruit and chocolate combination, plus my favourite chocolate tart recipe, and poshed it up with a little spice. A word of warning, though, the tart needs to be made ahead so the centre can cool and set.
Give banana bread a hint of sweet by including grated pears in the mix. Add a little malt rice syrup, and refined sugar won't be needed. You can easily freeze slices of this loaf for later.
Whoever decided that stuffing French toast with poached pears was a good idea can take a bow. Just quietly, tinned pears work just as well in this simple dish. Shhhh...
Thin slices of pear add a twist to a classic afternoon tea treat. The sweetness of the pear means you can skip the jam, but never the softly-whipped cream.
This vibrant salad brings together creamy goat's cheese, roasted fruit and crisp greens for a side that simply can't be ignored.
This is your classic fruit sponge cake, and one of the simplest, quickest cake recipes I know.
These sweet, lightly smoked pears with ginger-biscuit filling are completed with a dollop of pillowy, soft whipped cream.
Pear brings a sweet and buttery quality to this vibrant fruit and vegetable juice.
This recipe called for cashew butter, but you can use your favourite nut butter; either way, the result will be a creamy, softly sweet, satisfying smoothie that is a great way to start any day or fill a gap between meals.
This cake began as a humble ginger tea cake but, with the addition of poached pears and toasted nuts, it has morphed into a comforting upside-down cake that’s perfect for a winter pudding.