Amidst all the cookies, cakes, and chocolates this time of year, something a little savory—and that incorporates fresh fruit—can be a welcome change. Plus, it’s the “pear-fect” time (sorry!) to enjoy different pears as a number of domestic varieties are in season. And, did you know December is National Pear Month?
Whether you’re looking for an appetizer for the many rounds of merrymaking or maybe a light meal in between, pear quesadillas serve well to combine savory and a touch of fresh sweetness. Pears and cheese are natural partners to begin with, but the marriage is much livelier if you add heat, both from chilies and from the oven, notes food writer and this recipe developer Regina Schrambling. Here, chipotles, which are simply smoked jalapeños, have a haunting flavor that plays off the sweetness of the fruit in what is essentially a Mexican grilled cheese. These can also be toasted on an ungreased griddle. (Recipe from Real Food.)
Pears are one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree. Buy firm ones with no bruises and store them at room temperature until ripe. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in a brown paper bag (at room temperature). The Pear Bureau Northwest’s slogan is “Check the Neck” for ripeness. Apply gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat. This is a good test since some pears don’t change color when ripe. Once the pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process and saved for use up to five days later.
Happy National Pear Month!
Chipotle Pear Quesadillas
Serves 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a light main course
4 firm but ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, cored and peeled
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce plus 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
8 7- to 8-inch flour tortillas
2 small scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
½ lb. grated Monterey Jack
4 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsp. melted butter
Sour cream for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cut pears in quarters lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Place pear slices in a mixing bowl and toss with lime juice. Finely chop chilies and add them with adobo sauce to pears. Toss with a rubber spatula to mix well.
Lay 4 tortillas out on a work surface. Divide pear mixture among them. Strew scallions over pear mixture, then cover evenly with grated cheese. Sprinkle with cilantro. Top with remaining 4 tortillas, pressing down to slightly compress filling.
Brush 2 baking sheets with a little of the melted butter. Place quesadillas on baking sheets. Brush quesadillas with remaining butter.
Bake until cheese is completely melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes before cutting into quarters. Serve with sour cream on the side, if desired.
Nutrition info Chipotle Pear Quesadillas (per serving): CALORIES 317 (155 from fat); FAT 17g (sat. 10g); CHOL 40mg; SODIUM 518mg; CARB 32g; FIBER 4g; PROTEIN 10g