Asian Pears

Christmas time means one thing at the Winner household: Harry and David pears. I’m not sure if anyone actually sends them to us, or if SUE! just buys them as a gift to herself (and anyone else who happens to steal one while she’s not looking). When you tenderly open the box and unwrap the paper, they seem to actually glow. I think they are such a coveted treat because in a time of nothing but root vegetables (and so little daylight that you might actually think that you’re living IN a root cellar), these wonderful little morsels show up in a pretty box on your step and remind you that mother nature will in fact wake up again one day and delicious fruit will return.

Also known as Apple Pears, these lovelies are juicy and sweet like a pear, but crunchy like an apple. I love a good crunchy apple, so these are right up my alley. I found them at the produce stand by my house, though I’ve seen them in the past at grocery stores with above average produce sections. The NW is the perfect pear-growing climate, and these apple pears are in season from August to October. Much like apples, they hold up well in cold storage, which means you can find them almost year round.

The pears have a beautiful goldish skin, stippled with bosch-like texturing. I couldn’t wait to bite into one of these, and pretty much ate a whole one while sitting at a particularly slow traffic light on the way home. It was wonderful – juicy and crunchy with a delicate flavor. And I had one thought: asian pear tart.

This is my “crap, people are coming over for dinner and I have to make a dessert that looks fancy but takes 2 minutes” dessert. I think I had it originally at my good friend Alice’s house (she’s always got some delicious pastry-goodness cooking up), though I think most home cooks have a version tucked up their sleeve. You can use your favorite pastry recipe for the dough. And if you’re in a pinch and really want to throw this together in minutes, you can use store-bought dough and I won’t even tell anyone.

Easy Pear Tart

Click here to print this recipe
Stolen and adapted from Alice from Keep the Feast, also found on Orangette.
Serves: 4 – 6
Time: 45 minutes

5 or 6 asian pears
turbinado sugar
1 pastry crust
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 375. Peel the pears, and quarter them. Cut out the core, and slice thinly (about ¼”).

Roll out the pastry dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Trim the edges to form a rectangle if necessary. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the pear slices in rows, slightly overlapping down the length of the dough, starting about ¾” from the edges. It’s easiest to start by placing a row of slices down the short side of the pastry, to judge how many rows you will be able to fit. Then adjust as is necessary to center.

Fold over the edges and crimp the corners.

Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash. Lightly brush the pastry edges with the egg wash.

Sprinkle the sugar over the prepared tart, using about 3 or so tablespoons total.

Bake in the middle rack of your oven for about 35 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly browned, and the fruit has softened. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

This recipe works well with apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, etc. Adjust the sugar depending on how sweet the fruit is.

PS – I used the leftover pear slices on a salad with mixed greens, avocado and a little drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and it was wonderful. The avocado and pear complimented each other so well. Can’t wait to make vinaigrette with olive oil infused with shallots and these pears!

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Comments: 2

  1. Sue September 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm Reply

    Oh Hi Amy…. Have been looking for Asian pears in the market back in NJ but none are to be found. Soooo – if you are wondering what to get me for Christmas – just click onto Harry and David’s and start shopping. In the meantime – what pears should I get for a nice green salad with pears?? Mom

    • seattlepalate September 18, 2009 at 9:58 am Reply

      Keep looking because Asian Pears are in season in California in September, so you just might find them! If not, you can use any kind of pear – Bosc and Comice are in fall varietals, so they may be the most readily available right now. (Bartletts are late summer, Anjous are in the winter.) If you can buy fruit that’s in season, chances are good that you’ll get a better piece of fruit. The Asian Pears are nice because they have an apple-like texture, so they don’t get too messy in a salad. Try them in the salad with your new favorite – avocado – YUM!
      One more thing – Epicurious has a pretty convenient interactive map that shows what foods are in season by state. It’s a great reference!

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