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 Pecan Pumpkin Spice Bread

Some “breads” are actually quite sweet and sugary, acting more like cake than bread. This Pear Pecan Pumpkin Spice Bread lets the naturally sweet taste of the pears shine through without any added sugar AND it pears perfectly (pun intended) with savory dishes like a steamy bowl of butternut squash soup. It’ll also look beautiful on your holiday table!

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

2 fresh ripe USA Pears – peel, core, cut into pieces

2 fresh USA Pears with stem – cut in half (leave core attached), core and peel

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice

2 teaspoons cocoa – unsweetened

½ cup extra virgin olive light oil or avocado oil

½ cup plain Greek yogurt – plain

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2/3 cup almond milk

1/4 cup pecans – chopped

Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350◦F

Coat a loaf pan (9 X 5 inch) with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place pears that are peeled, cored, cut into pieces into a food processor and puree. Set aside.

Spoon flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.

In a medium bowl, whisk flours together with the next 6 ingredients (through cocoa).

In a large bowl combine oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, eggs, syrup, almond milk and pureed pears and beat with a hand mixer until combined.

Add flour mixture to above mixture and beat at a low speed just until combined (don’t over mix.)

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly on top.

Arrange pear halves into the loaf pan, pressing each into batter.

Bake bread in loaf pan for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then carefully remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Serving suggestion: Serve a slice of bread alongside a steamy bowl of soup, like butternut squash. A perfect pear!

Thanks-Living

Stuffingturkeyhires

The holidays are here, possibly the happiest and unhealthiest time of year. On Thanksgiving when we’re giving thanks and celebrating friends and family, we seem to put health last. Start a new tradition and make health a priority this year! Why not start the holiday with a Turkey Trot or family fun run/walk in your neighborhood? And eat breakfast, even though you may plan to eat a large meal later. Studies show that exercise and breakfast keep us from eating too much throughout the day. For breakfast try fiber and protein-rich foods to keep you satisfied, maybe a veggie omelet with a side of fruit. And, for the big meal, keep two or three of your family’s favorite traditional holiday foods and scrap the least favorites for fresh veggies and fruit salad. Research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab suggests that if your table has fewer options, you’re likely to eat less! Try tossing diced pears, persimmons, and oranges with dried cranberries and pecans for a new fall favorite. Yum!

Finally, I have a confession: My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is dessert. To keep from binging too much, my family has a rule. We won’t eat pie right after the big meal; we wait a few hours when we’re ready for leftovers. As strange as it sounds, we eat less this way! Cheers to you, your family, and health!

Something to be Thankful for: Ripe Pears!

fruit bowl

I bought these beautiful Bosc at the store on Sunday. They will be served as an hors d’oeuvre at Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s house, topped with parmesan cheese and wrapped in prosciutto (similar to these, but with my own twist). A light, yet savory-sweet prelude to our feast!

To make sure that the pears are at their peak ripeness for the big day, with that honey-sweet flavor that Bosc is famous for, I’ve left them at room temperature in the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter.  I’ve been checking the neck daily, and they are going to be pear-fectly ripe for Thursday!

Pre-pear for the Holidays!

cornucopia

This week I held a brown bag lunch with coworkers to discuss ideas for staying healthy over the holidays. The holidays are hard for everyone; eating healthfully and exercising take a back seat to stress and holiday celebrations that focus on eating and drinking. Although most people only need about 2000 calories per day, the average Thanksgiving meal has 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat!*

I think we should enjoy our celebrations responsibly. Here are some healthful tips to get you through the next few weeks. First, eat a balanced meal before heading to parties, and always have a snack handy. Try a pear with some peanut butter, or carrot sticks and a handful of nuts, to keep you satisfied when you’re fighting crowds at the mall. Next, make eating breakfast a tradition on Thanksgiving! Balance protein, fat, and fiber to keep you satisfied and prevent overindulging later in the day; try a bowl of oatmeal with sliced pears and walnuts for a yummy fall breakfast. Then, get back on track starting the day after Thanksgiving. Eat a wholesome breakfast, lunch, and dinner that include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Finally, make time to exercise! I know we’re all busy, but even a brisk walk for ten minutes three times a day will benefit your stress level and your waistline. Be thankful for your health!

*American Council on Exercise, http://www.acefitness.org/pressroom/436/ace-reveals-average-person-will-consume-3-000/