About Andrea Slonecker

Andrea Slonecker an award-winning cookbook author and food stylist based in Portland, Oregon. Her books cover a range of food and beverage topics, including pears: watch for her Short Stack Editions Pears booklet, filled with 20+ original sweet and savory pear recipes, coming out in Fall of 2017.

Instant Pot Pear Oatmeal Jars

The Instant Pot, that magical cooking appliance that allows you to do everything from sautéing to pressure-cooking, is all the rage right now. I put it to use in the morning to cook steel cut oats in no time. What’s even better is that the oats can be combined with any variety of ripe USA Pears and cooked right in individual mason jars for the family on the go. After cooking, the jars are topped with a variety of toppings to jazz up this heart-healthy breakfast.

Makes 4 one-pint jars

Ingredients:

2 cups diced USA Pears

1 cup steel cut oats

1/4 cup chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, dates, or raisins

6 tablespoons honey

8 teaspoons chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Sea salt

About 3 cups water

Topping Ideas:

Coconut Milk Yogurt or Greek Yogurt

Dried fruit

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Cacao Nibs

Directions:

In each of 4 pint-size mason jars, combine 1/2 cup of the pears, 1/4 cup of the oats, 1 tablespoon of the dried fruit, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the honey, 2 teaspoons of the chia seeds, 1/8 teaspoon each of the cardamom and ground ginger, and a pinch of salt. Pour about 3/4 cup water into each jar, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Screw on the tops and shake the jars vigorously to mix everything together. Loosen the lids slightly to allow steam to release as they cook.

Prepare the Instant Pot by placing a wire rack in the bottom and pouring in 1 cup of water. Place the jars on the rack and secure the top of the pot. Select high pressure and set the timer for 20 minutes.

When done cooking, allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. (Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.) Open the pressure cooker and carefully remove the hot jars. Allow them to rest until the contents stop bubbling. Remove the lids using hot pads, being careful for steam. Stir each jar, then top as desired with the optional toppings. The oats can be served immediately or the lids can be put back on to serve them later.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Pear, Green Tea, and Honey Granita

As we enter the depths of winter, after the holiday rush has slowed to steady daily routines, we take pleasure in things with a simpler, more nourishing feel. Enter granita, the flavor-rich frozen treat that is Italy’s answer to French sorbet or Hawaiian shave ice.

Perhaps it’s most often served as a refreshing end to a rich meal, but that’s not the end of its capabilities. After all, this recipe is simply a mixture of lusciously ripe fresh pears sweetened with a touch of honey, accentuated by a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and enhanced with the addition of matcha powder for green tea flavor and color, which also lends a smooth texture to the fluffy ice. Yes, it’s delicious served all on its own to finish dinner, but consider the options. Freshly shucked oysters benefit from a dollop to bring out the sweet and briny flavors. It’s also a traditional topping for a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with the two frozen textures—one cream, one crunchy—playing yin and yang to one another. Perhaps my favorite way to eat granita is with a fresh topping of finely chopped pears, cucumber, and mint, mixed with lime juice and pomegranate seeds—a refreshing and delicious dessert indeed, yet not overly indulgent.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

2 ripe USA Bartlett, Green Anjou, or Comice pears

2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder

Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Peel, core, and coarsely chop the pears and put them in a blender. Add the honey, lemon juice, matcha powder, and salt. Blend on high until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish, such as a cake pan or bread loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer until the mixture is frozen solid, at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Using a fork, scrape the frozen granita into fluffy crystals. Spoon into small bowls, or serve as desired.

Recipe, Photos and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Pear and Gouda Cheese Ball with Cranberries and Pecans

The all-American cheese ball is a throwback worth revisiting. Popular at holiday parties of yesteryear, today we take a fresh, lightened-up approach with the addition of pears. Swap the classic orange cheddar or crumbly blue for a nutty aged Gouda. The nuttiness plays well with both the sweet pears folded into the cheese mixture and the crunchy pecans that are sprinkled on the outside, while parsley and scallions add a savory bite. Perfect for an office gathering or a family affair, this pear-flecked cheese spread presents well in the shape of everyone’s favorite holiday fruit. And it’s deceptively easy to pull off, too.

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups finely shredded aged Gouda cheese (about 6 ounces), at room temperature

1 ripe USA Anjou pear, peeled, cored (reserving the stem), and finely diced

1 green onion, white and light green parts only, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

3 tablespoons minced dried cranberries

Crostini or crackers, for serving

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, Gouda, pear, green onion, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the salt, and pepper until well combined.

Coat a large piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray. Transfer the cheese mixture to the center of the plastic wrap and press and mold it into an oval disk. Tightly wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the pecans, and cranberries; set aside.

Remove the cheese disk from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it in the center of a serving platter. Use another piece of plastic wrap and your hands to mold the cheese mixture into the shape of a pear. Sprinkle with the pecan mixture to coat the top and sides evenly. Wipe the edges of the platter clean with a damp paper towel. Place the reserved pear stem in the top, and serve with crostini or crackers arranged around the edges of the platter.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Pear Rugelach

Rugelach, the crescent-shaped, cookie-like pastries filled with any combination of nuts, fruit, chocolate, and seeds, is a festive holiday treat of Jewish decent. Though they are commonly filled with dried fruits, like raisins, fresh pears diced extra small are a tasty twist. Pear butter adds another layer of flavor and allows the filling to stick to the dough as you roll them up. It can be found in the jam aisle at many supermarkets. The cream cheese dough is tender, flaky, and oh so easy to mix together, making this recipe a fun endeavor for families of any faith during the holiday season.

Makes 36

Ingredients:

Dough

16 tablespoons (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup finely diced pears

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts

3 tablespoons pear butter (homemade or store-bought)

1 egg, beaten

Directions: 

To make the dough: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until creamy. Add the flour, and stir by hand until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into three equal portions, and pat and press each into a smooth disk. Tightly wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough until firm but not hard, about 1 hour. (The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator; soften slightly before rolling.)

To make the filling: Stir the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix the pears, hazelnuts, and 1/3 cup of the cinnamon-sugar, reserving the rest to sprinkle the top of the rugelach later.

Dust a work surface generously with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll one of the dough disks into a 10- to 11-inch circle. Brush the surface evenly, all the way to the edges, with 1 tablespoon of the pear butter. Use a spoon and your fingers to spread about one-third of the filling mixture over the pear butter. Use a pizza or pastry cutter or long knife to cut the circle into 12 wedges by first cutting it in half, then in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide end and rolling toward the tip. Arrange the rugelach on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, with tip sides pointing down. Repeat with the remaining two dough disks.

Brush the top of the rugelach with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and refrigerate the rugelach while the oven preheats.

Bake the rugelach until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rugelach will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days, or wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Pear Waldorf Salad

During those weeks between the holidays at this time of year, a crunchy, fresh salad with a wintery undertone is just what we crave. The Waldorf Salad may be traditionally made with apples, but we love it with the soft, seductive sweetness of ripe pears. Instead of gloppy mayonnaise, we toss crisp celery and fennel, toasted walnuts, grapes, and those succulent pears with Greek yogurt for a tangy take. Fresh herbs and sunflower seeds add texture and a modern feel. Serve the salad spooned into butter lettuce or radicchio leaves, or scoop it up with warm pita bread for a light and simple lunch.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 ripe USA Red Anjou Pears, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, reserving fronds, cored, and sliced

3 ribs celery with leaves, stalks sliced and leaves coarsely chopped

1 cup halved red grapes

3/4 cup walnut halves and pieces, toasted

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the pears, fennel, celery slices and leaves, grapes, walnuts, and parsley leaves. Add the yogurt, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and the sunflower seeds, and serve.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Pear and Sausage Stuffing

Whether you are a “stuffing” or a “dressing” kind of person, pears add a magical twist when served alongside your holiday bird. Because they are sautéed and then baked, the pears are meant to be meltingly soft in this side dish, and any variety will do. Sausage adds a piquant kick, and don’t skimp on those fresh herbs. Consider this recipe another delicious vehicle for getting pears on your Thanksgiving table.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing and brushing

1 (20-ounce) loaf white bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

12 ounces mild Italian pork sausage (casings removed if the sausage is in links)

2 ripe USA Pears, stemmed, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade turkey stock

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish with butter.

Spread the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven until lightly browned, 12 to 20 minutes (depending on the moisture content of the bread). Combine the toasted bread cubes, parsley, and sage in a large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft and translucent and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the pears and continue cooking until they are just soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the pepper, and bring it to a simmer. Pour the contents of the pan over the bread cubes and toss until evenly moistened. Taste and add salt as needed.

Loosely pack the dressing into the prepared dish and cook, uncovered, until the top forms a deep crust, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Want more pear-a-licious Thanksgiving recipes? Click HERE!

Pear and Pumpkin Pancakes with Cider Syrup

Chilly fall mornings are back! Before bundling up the family for a trip to the pumpkin patch, fill them up with a hearty breakfast that celebrates the season. Grated pears add sweetness to a fall favorite, pumpkin pancakes, limiting the sugar and bumping up the nutrition. Here it’s best to use a tender, juicy pear variety that is on the sweeter side, such as Bartlett, Comice, Anjou, or Starkrimson. To top it off, pear cider is cooked down with maple syrup to make a simple yet delicious all-natural syrup for drizzling. Serve with bacon and eggs for a complete brunch while entertaining houseguests when the holidays roll around. These fluffy flapjacks are sure to be a new family favorite.

Makes 12 pancakes (serves 4 to 6)

Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 ripe USA Pears, coarsely shredded

Syrup

2 cups pear cider

1 cup maple syrup

2 cinnamon sticks

For Serving

Unsalted butter

Powdered sugar

To make the pancakes: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk, pumpkin purée, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the shredded pears.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until mostly combined. Set the batter aside for 10 to 20 minutes.

To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cider, syrup, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Simmer until the mixture reduces by about half and is slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and keep the syrup warm.

To cook the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 150 to 200˚F to keep the pancakes warm while cooking in batches.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and melt about 1 tablespoon of butter, swirling it around to coat the pan. Add 1/4 cup portions of batter to the pan, gently spreading it out with the bottom of the measuring cup. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking on the second side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to the warm oven, and repeat to cook additional batches.

Serve the pancakes with pats of butter, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and the warm cider syrup drizzled on top.

Grilled Pear and Lamb Flatbreads

pear and ground lamb flatbread with fresh mint

Pears and meat are a winning combination. We often think of pork and chicken with fruit, but let’s not overlook lamb. That robust flavor is deliciously complemented by sweet, aromatic charred pears hot off the grill, and both partner perfectly with Middle Eastern flavors. Here we have a complete meal cooked almost entirely on the grill. A very simple dough is rolled out to make homemade flatbreads that get cooked right on the grill, and then topped with sliced grilled pears and red onions, spiced ground lamb, charred halloumi cheese, and an addictive yogurt-tahini sauce. Think of these flatbreads as a pizza of sorts, perfect for a patio party, and they’re as delicious hot as they are at room temperature.

Serves 6

Dough
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)

Toppings
1 cup yogurt
1/3 cup tahini sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 pound ground lamb
1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
3 USA Green Bartlett Pears, halved, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick disks (each layer kept together)
8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slabs
Pine nuts, for topping
Handful torn mint leaves, for topping

To make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk the flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add the yogurt and fold it in with a rubber spatula, just until blended. Dump the dough onto a work surface dusted generously with flour. Knead the dough gently until smooth, about 30 seconds, then cut it into 6 equal portions. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each portion of dough into an imperfect oval, about 1/8-inch thick. Add more flour to the surface or the pin as needed, as the dough will be rather sticky. On a large baking sheet, stack the dough between sheets of parchment paper, and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you prepare the toppings and preheat the grill, or for up to 1 hour.

To make the toppings: In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cover and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, fennel seed, cumin, coriander, chile flakes, and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, and the lamb browns and becomes slightly crispy in the rendered fat, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Prepare a fire in a charcoal or gas grill. For charcoal, when the coals are ready, distribute them and preheat the grate. Wait until they’ve reached medium-high heat, or when you can hold your palm about 3 inches above the grill grate for 3 to 5 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat on high, covered, for about 15 minutes, then adjust the burners as needed throughout cooking.

Brush the pears, red onion, and halloumi with a light coating of olive oil, and season the pears and onions with salt and pepper. Arrange them on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until all are tender and nicely charred on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes for the pears and halloumi, and 8 to 10 minutes for the onions. Remove the toppings from the grill as they are done and collect them on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Brush the grill grates clean. Grill the flatbreads, two or three at a time, until puffy and charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

To assemble the flatbreads, top each with a generous smear of the yogurt spread, dividing it evenly. Pull apart the onion rings and tear the halloumi and divide them amongst the flatbreads. Scatter the lamb over the top, followed by the pears and pine nuts. Finish with the mint leaves. Cut the flatbreads into triangle-shaped slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet and Sour Spiralized Pear and Cucumber Salad

spiralized pears and cucumbers in a white bowl on a wood grain backgroundIn the height of summertime, pears offer a crisp and refreshing element in salads. Their porous texture sops up tangy dressings like a flavor sponge, and that sweet pear perfume enhances nearly any combination of summer vegetables. Cucumbers are a particularly nice “pearing” in raw salads, and if you have a spiralizer, both cucumbers and pears are ideal for turning into twirly, noodle-like strands. This crunchy salad is a take on that classic sweet-and-sour cucumber recipe that everyone loves this time of year. If you don’t have a spiralizer, simply slice the pears and cucumbers on a mandoline, or as thinly as you can using a chef’s knife. Partner this crunchy, vibrant salad with fish or shrimp hot off the grill, or bring it to the next potluck picnic.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 green USA Pears
1 seedless cucumber

Cucmber Salad 6Directions:
Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the sliced shallot and stir to combine. Set aside for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour to macerate the shallots.

Meanwhile, spiralize the pears and cucumbers: Trim the stem from one of the pears and place it in the spiralizer. Process it through the blades, stopping when you reach the core. Repeat to spiralize the other pear. Next, cut the cucumber to fit in the spiralizer and process it through.

Add the spiralized pears and cucumbers to the bowl of dressing and shallots. Toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for at least 5 minutes and up to 30 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar or salt as needed, then enjoy!

Grilled Stuffed Pears

Pears grilled and stuffed with quinoa and cheeseWhen it comes to summer grilling, pears are often overlooked. But the fact is their hardy texture is ideal for standing up to the intensity of the grill, and as they cook, their delicious flavor is enhanced by the smoky flames. Grilled pears can be prepared in both sweet and savory ways: think grilled pear halves topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, or sliced grilled pears tossed in a summery salad. Here they are cooked on the grill until just tender and juicy, with a quinoa salad stuffing that evokes flavors of the Mediterranean. Extra-virgin olive oil, Spanish-style chorizo, and fresh mint add a bold, summertime flare, while white balsamic vinegar adds a sweet, fruity tang to complement the flavors found in the grilled pears. Serve these at your next backyard barbecue, for an outside-the-box appetizer or entrée.

Serves 4 as a main course, or 8 as an appetizer

4 USA Anjou pears
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (sometimes labeled “golden” balsamic vinegar)
1/3 cup chopped dry-cured Spanish chorizo
1/4 cup sliced or coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup crumbled feta
8 cups baby arugula

Put the quinoa in a small saucepan and add 1 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, still covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Drizzle in the olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the hot quinoa to coat evenly, then spread it out on a platter to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the chorizo, almonds, scallions, and mint and gently toss to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Prepare a hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill, or preheat a stovetop grill pan until smoking hot. Grease the grill grates with oil.

Meanwhile, cut the pears in half. Using a round metal spoon, such as a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon or a melon baller, remove the core plus a little extra flesh. Rub the pears on all sides with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt.

Grill the pears on the cut sides until deep grill marks appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the pears over and fill them with the quinoa stuffing, piling it on in a big heap in the center of each one. Sprinkle the tops with the feta. Close the grill lid and continue grilling until the pears are tender when pierced with a fork and the feta topping is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears. If they seem to be cooking too quickly on the bottom before they become tender within, simply move them to a cooler part of the grill and continue grill roasting, with the lid closed, until they are cooked through.

Serve the hot grilled pears over the arugula, finished with a drizzle of olive oil over the pears and greens.