“Each tree, laden with the fairest fruit, that hung to th’eye. Tempting, stirr’d in me sudden appetite to pluck and eat...”

— John Milton (Paradise Lost)

Fall is the season of sensuously ripe and robust flavors. Especially enjoyable during the increasingly cooler days are the fruits of fall, crisp, juicy apples, creamy, curvy pears, luscious figs and gorgeous, globe shaped grapes. Whether roasted, sautéed, poached, baked into breads, crisps, muffins or cakes, or enjoyed right off the tree or vine, fall fruits are sensational and satisfying.

Pears are a particularly nutritious fall fruit, offering powerful health benefits. Rich in fiber, pears provide 6 grams of fiber in each medium-sized pear. Consuming adequate amounts of fiber will help with the body’s elimination process. A high-fiber diet may also help control cholesterol levels, which may have some influence on reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and certain cancers, including colon cancer. Pears are bursting with plenty of vitamin protection from the copious amounts of vitamins C, K, B2, B3 and B6, all of which help boost the immune system and assist in disease prevention.

  Bartlett, Anjou, Seckel, Bosc and Comice pears are among the local varieties available at supermarkets and farm markets. Pears are a perfect ingredient for fall recipes, as the early days of fall signal the body to warm and nurture itself with seasonal foods. Pears marry well with traditional fall spices such as cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. The exotic scent of cinnamon may boost brain activity, while spicy, sweet ginger is a highly effective anti-inflammatory source that may help relieve stiffness and swelling, quell nausea, heartburn and indigestion.

A superb fall salad can be prepared by roasting pears with cinnamon and ginger, then adding the pears to a bed of escarole or mixed greens, garnishing with a smattering of goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and drizzling with a cider vinaigrette.

Autumn bruschetta is an effective yet easy hors d’oeuvre. Slice and toast good country bread, spread with a creamy cheese and top with pear slices that have been sautéed with a touch of brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Warm, crisp, creamy and spicy, all the components of a delectable autumn dish.

Since the days of ancient Rome, pears have been revered for their unique and delicious flavor. A perfectly ripe pear is truly a marvel of natural goodness. To check pears for ripeness, press gently near the stem, if it yields slightly then you should have a nice, ripe fruit. If not, let sit at room temperature for a couple of days until ready. Should you be impatient to eat your pears, use not-quite-ripe fruit for poached, roasted or sautéed recipes. Cooked pears are delightful spooned into yogurt parfaits, as a topping for French toast or wrapped into brown-butter crepes.

By appreciating the perfection of seasonal ingredients, we have just what we need to prepare a delicious life!

Ginger Pear Crisp

Serves 6

5-6 large pears, slightly firm (Bosc pears work well for this recipe)

2 1/2 tablespoons very finely chopped crystallized ginger

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup organic butter, cut into thin slices

1 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or rub a little butter on the bottom of the pan. Lay pear slices in bottom of the pan and sprinkle with crystallized ginger.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar and spices. Using your fingers, work in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over pears and ginger. Then sprinkle almonds or walnuts over the top.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with a drizzle of cold heavy cream, if desired.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.