Cast-Iron Skillet Roasted Pears with Hearty Whole-Grain Panzanella (Vegan)

A good cast-iron pan works wonders on pears. When just-ripe Anjous are cut in half and seared in a hot skillet then placed in the oven, it brings out a rich and roasty caramelized flavor that renders the pears entrée worthy. They take on depth of flavor and luscious texture to make them a deliciously satisfying substitute for meat, whether you practice a vegetarian or vegan diet, or are just looking to reduce the amount of meat you consume. Here the roasted pears are offered with a warm, whole-grain panzanella, that ubiquitous Italian bread salad usually involving fruity tomatoes and basil in the height of summer. Fruity roasted pears are a perfect alternative at the end of winter. Packed with hearty greens and chicories, olives, and a maple-scallion dressing, this recipe makes for a nutritious one-dish meal.

Serves 4-6


6 ounces seedy whole-grain artisan bread, torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 packed cups)

4 to 6 USA Red Anjou pears

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced on a bias

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

4 packed cups torn radicchio leaves, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes and drained

2 packed cups baby kale or arugula leaves

3/4 cup green olives, smashed, pitted and very coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds


Spread the torn bread on a large rimmed baking sheet and broil in the oven until lightly charred all over but still a little soft inside, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes (be careful not to let them burn!). Remove the croutons from the oven and set aside.

Switch the oven to preheat to 475˚F. Halve and core the pears and sprinkle the cut sides lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. When wisps of smoke appear, add the pears to the skillet in a single layer with cut sides down. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the pears are deeply browned and caramelized on the cut sides and very tender inside when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the roasted pears to a platter and loosely tent with foil. Place the pan of hot pear drippings over medium heat and immediately whisk in 1 more tablespoon of the oil, the scallions, and garlic and cook briefly, until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vinegar, maple syrup, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the croutons, radicchio, kale or arugula, and olives. Pour in the warm dressing and toss very thoroughly. If needed, drizzle in a little more olive oil so that all ingredients are nicely coated. Serve the pears over the warm salad, garnished with plenty of the toasted almonds.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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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


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


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!

5 Hearty Pear Soups to Warm Your Winter

Few things warm the body and soul like a bowl of soup in the wintertime. When it’s cold outside, soup can bring a sense of nourishment and comfort. The winter months also happen to be an ideal time to experiment in the kitchen since the frigid temperatures keep many of us inside. Pears may not be an ingredient that immediately comes to mind when you think of soup, but they can bring a unique flavor and texture to both sweet and savory soups. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C, making them a nutritious and delicious ingredient. Whether sautéed with vegetables before stock is added, roasted and pureed to blend with stocks, or simply chopped and added to an already simmering broth, pears are a fun and tasty way to step up your soup game. These five soups will add plenty of warmth and sweetness to the winter months.

1. Curried Butternut Squash and Pear Bisque

Developed by chef Vitaly Paley of the acclaimed restaurant Paley’s Place in Portland, OR, this vegetarian soup is simultaneously simple and decadent. Rich flavors take center stage as the creaminess, heartiness and sweetness strike a heavenly balance with squash and pears getting a nice curry kick.

2. Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken, Pears and Coconut

This autumn-inspired version of Mulligatawny soup is sure to delight. Colorful pears, tender chicken, sweet potatoes and rich coconut milk star in this adaptation of a classic English soup with Indian origins. The recipe comes together in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner, and the leftovers taste even better! Top the soup with crunchy toasted coconut and bright, fresh cilantro leaves.

3. Roasted Pear and Delicata Squash Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Simplicity is the key in this recipe with basic ingredients and cooking directions that are easy to follow. This velvety smooth soup can be made up to three days ahead of when you plan to eat it. Once it’s ready just cover, cool and refrigerate, warm it up just before serving whenever you’re ready! Homemade croutons make it a total crowd-pleaser too!

4. Pear and Sunchoke Soup with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Bacon

Sunchoke is a root vegetable also known as a Jerusalem artichoke because of its artichoke flavor. This recipe, developed by Ethan Stowell of Seattle’s Staple & Fancy, Tavoláta, How to Cook a Wolf and Anchovies & Olives, brings a sweet start to any meal with an unusual combination of ripe pears and sunchokes. Oh yeah…and bacon!

5. Pear and Sweet Corn Soup with Basil-Macadamia Pesto

Basil-macadamia pesto serves as a zesty compliment to the sweetness of the pear and corn soup. This is yet another recipe that is uncomplicated and quick to whip up, which makes it a satisfying dish to make for the family on those hectic weeknights. It’s also meatless and fairly low on oil!

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


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


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)

Thai-Inspired Chicken and Pear “Noodle” Salad

PEARNOODLEThis fresh and fun recipe isn’t just chock-full of vegetables, it’s chock-full of delicious USA Pears! Firm, fiber-rich Anjou pears stand in for noodles in this salad, and the “noodles” couldn’t be more simple to make using a spiral vegetable slicer. Start by shredding leftover chicken (or pick up a rotisserie chicken). Next, shake together the Asian lime dressing, slice the veggies for the salad, and finally, toss it all together with the pear “noodles”. Top the salad with toasted, chopped peanuts and get ready to fall in love!

Thai-Inspired Chicken and Pear “Noodle” Salad

For the Asian Lime Dressing:
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
1 – 2 teaspoons fish sauce, according to your taste

Combine the lime juice and honey in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to dissolve the honey. Add the water and fish sauce and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding more fish sauce or honey if necessary.

For the Chicken and Pear “Noodle” Salad:
8 ounces cooked, cooled, and shredded chicken breast
2 packed cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 medium carrot, fine julienne
3 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias
3 firm USA Pears, such as Anjou, sliced into a noodle shape on a spiral vegetable slicer
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts

In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, cabbage, carrot, and scallions with about half of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Spiralize the pears at the last moment to prevent discoloration, and add them to the salad along with the cilantro and basil. Toss the salad gently once again to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding more dressing if desired. Transfer the salad to a large platter or bowl and top with the chopped peanuts.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Make Time for You

Lonely SeckelI have an influx of stressed calls and emails this time of year, mostly from clients and students trying to manage health and holiday stress at the same time. I know how frustrating this time of year is, I struggle with the same problem! Don’t fret, there are simple solutions to help you have a healthy holiday season.

First, make a schedule and stick to it. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it, if you schedule time for exercise, food preparation, and sleep and you follow the schedule, you’re better equipped to take care of yourself and manage stress. Second, eat before events and move away from the treat table! At my friends’ parties, we always stand around the food, chatting and snacking. This is such a hard habit to break, but if you eat ahead of time and pull your friends away from the table you’re less likely to overeat. Third, make time to decompress. Whether you enjoy stretching, reading, games or simply sitting quietly, allow yourself at least 10 minutes every day for quiet time and positive thoughts. Finally, and most importantly, be kind to yourself! Nobody is perfect and there is always tomorrow. Remember that the holidays are about celebrating family and friends, so allow yourself to splurge a little, then get back on track the next day. Happy Holidays!

Play with Your Food!

This week, USA Pears attended the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Annual Nutrition Conference in Kansas City. Many of the sessions were geared toward helping school lunch professionals increase fruit and vegetable consumption, while limiting sodium, fat, and excess calories. Although this seems simple, sometimes children are picky and sometimes they are simply more familiar with the taste of processed foods. What nutrition experts have discovered is that if children play with their food, that is to say that if they help in the preparation and explore the different colors, textures, and flavors of different fruits and veggies, they’re more likely to eat them now and throughout their lives.

Here’s a simple suggestion: slice fruit and veggies into smaller pieces and let kids add fun toppings. At SNA we showcased a pear “salad” bar – sliced pears with a variety of toppings, including yogurt, granola, cheese, nut butters, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. The bar was a hit with the participants, many of whom plan to include this idea in their school districts. Just imagine how many more fruits and veggies kids will eat when eating healthfully becomes fun and flavorful!

Grill, Mastered!


It’s finally summer, my favorite season! I love summer because of all the fresh foods, the outside gatherings, and of course, the warm weather. Unfortunately, it’s only early June, and I’m already tired of the fatty fare available at picnics. Well, the grill isn’t just for burgers anymore! Try something delightful and healthy at your next outdoor grilling event. Grilled fruits and veggies are an excellent and delicious way to add color, variety, and nutrients to any backyard bash.

Ditch the potato salad and coleslaw and pop some festive veggie kabobs on the grill! You can use any vegetables you like, but seasonal, grillable options include peppers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and onions. Just brush them with olive oil and grill over medium heat, turning until tender and marked. But if you’re like me, you’re more interested in dessert! Try grilling fruit, the heat brings out the complexity and intense sweetness. Mouth-watering options are pineapple, peaches, pears, or watermelon, but experiment with your favorites. If it doesn’t slip through the grill, it’s a delicious, nutritious way to add a little flair and a lot of flavor to your next shindig!

Grilled Pears

It’s hot here. Really hot. Today’s forecast is a high of 97 degrees in Portland, and I have no air conditioning at home. Last night, as I was whining to my roommate about the heat in our kitchen, all I could think about was ice cream. And although I didn’t have any (but selflessly let her polish off our shared pint), today the perfect combination came to me. As soon as those Bartlett pears are picked in the next couple of weeks, I’m getting my hands on some and making this:

It will be divine. Especially if I put a scoop of this on top. Ohhhh yes.

Have you ever grilled fruit? What do you put on your grilled pears?

Sweet Scents

Just as I’m starting to pine for the days of Starkrimson and Bosc pears in my fruit bowl again, I stumbled across some exciting news that has me even more eager for fall!

Orla Kiely, London designer of Target collaboration fame, is working with Method this year to develop an exclusive line of fragrant home cleaning products for Target stores. I jumped for joy to hear that among the new scent lineup is pear ginger, which will be available in gel and foaming hand wash as well as dish soap and all-purpose cleaner!

Check out this blog post for more details. And mark your calendars! If this launch is anything like previous Target collaborations, these sweet suds will be flying off the shelves.