When everything starts to be infused with pumpkin spice, it’s a good indicator that the seasons have changed (even if the weather is slow to follow). And while fall food banalities—apple, cinnamon, and yes, pumpkin—are delicious, the tunnel vision attention that gets paid to them all autumn long means missing out on other truly great flavors. Enter pears.W
Pear, the overlooked cousin of the prettier, more popular apple (they really are cousins—both are Pomoideae, a subfamily of Rosaceae), is just as juicy, versatile and affordable as that other side of the family. What’s more, pears are in season right now, which means they’re perfect for baking into a fall dessert right now. Whether its bartlett, anjou, bosc or starkrimson (note: this variety is especially good for baking), treat them like a cardigan sale and stock up on these beauties for a new fall taste.
Pears are good savory or sweet, but a delicious option for impressing friends and taste buds all at once, is to bake them into a cranberry pear crumble:
- ¼ cup oat flour or whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 3 lbs. of your favorite pears
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Handful or two of cranberries (use more depending on how much sour you want)
Preheat oven to 375º F
For topping: Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and work together with a fork until everything is moistened.
For filling: Wash, peel, core and cut pears into ¼-inch slices (eyeball it). Remember that pears are trickier to peel than apples—you have to stick with narrow strips otherwise the knife will go too deep. Combine the pears with lemon juice and ginger in a large bowl. Add in the sugar, flour and cranberries and toss lightly.
Lightly coat an 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the pear mixture evenly into the dish, and with your hands sprinkle the topping over. Bake crumble until the pears are soft and the topping is brown (about 40 minutes at this elevation). Let cool or serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream; either way, you’ll be saying “apple who?”
Acorn, spaghetti and butternut are abounding during these months, but there are far more (lesser-known) varieties of the gourd to explore. Follow our guide and grab one from the farm or market for a savory surprise with dinner.
Commonly used in Central and South America, and the Caribbean, they look like green pumpkins (and can often substitute for pumpkin in recipes). Sautee with ground pork, oregano and onion, and throw into a corn tortilla for fall-inspired tacos.
This squash might be mistaken for a giant bumpy, grayish-blue sweet potato. Due to its size, it’s commonly used by restaurants and has a subtly sweet taste that caters well to both a meaty chili or a creamy custard pie.
Fun to look at and decorate with, not so fun to eat. Makes a good (and easy) centerpiece for the table or addition to the porch with its vibrant colors and namesake shape.
No, it’s not a bright orange pomegranate, it’s a squash, with an incredibly thick (edible!) skin and full, savory flavor. If you have 15 minutes, braise chunks of it with salt, olive oil and garlic.
An Asian variety of winter squash, it originated in Japan (sometimes called the Japanese pumpkin) and has a matte-like forest green complexion with light stripes running down its sides. It hardly needs any primping, so throw it in a stew or casserole for easy color and flavor.
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