Pear Recipes: Bubbling Crisps and Hot Cheese Sandwiches

While dining with my colleague and LA Times restaurant critic, Bill Addison, we ordered an old-fashioned pear and blue cheese salad served over tender greens, which had just returned to the menu. She broke the mold with the addition of lightly pickled gooseberries and sweet avocado chunks.

Pears – a sweet, buttery variety called Warren – were cut into thick wedges and complemented the fatty avocado and blue cheese, providing a crisp and sweet balance. The salad reminded me how much I love pears. When I’ve only been concerned about falling apples, pears are a delicious change of pace.

This salad also reminded me of my Chopped Pear Salad with Buttermilk Dressing from a few years ago. I cut the pears into large cubes and toss them with equally large chunks of Gruyere cheese (sharp cheddar would also be great) which then spread over the butter lettuce and drizzle with a tangy buttermilk vinaigrette. This is one of those salads that can be turned into a complete meal on its own but is also ideal alongside a quarter roast chicken.

Of course, I also like pears for cooking. Geneviève Ko’s simple Caramel Pear Crisp dresses the fruit in a crunchy oat and almond filling that bubbles and flavors. A dish of baked pears, drizzled with wine and honey and flavored with thyme, is a wonderful dessert to bake on a chilly morning to fill your home with the smells of fall – let it sit all day, getting better and better as it rests, until you are ready to serve it.

And then there’s Euro Pane’s Pear Spice Cake, which bakes ripe Anjou pears in a simple cinnamon batter. It is a cake bursting with rich fruits and nuts.

But my favorite use of fresh pears goes back to this salad from last week. Thick slices are sandwiched with blue cheese between two slices of hearty sourdough bread, then grilled in cheese until crispy and warm on the outside and gooey and sweet on the inside.

Pears in Pomegranate Wine with Honey and Lemon Thyme

In this recipe, pomegranate wine is used as the poaching liquid, then a bright-tinted sweet and sour sauce for the pears, but you can also use regular red wine. Allspice berries and thyme flavor the honey in the sauce, but switch it up and use cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, or a slice of fresh ginger in their place, if desired.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 45 minutes.

(Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times)

Chopped Pear Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

I prefer a pear that is firmer when ripe and less floury for this salad, such as a Comice or, if you can find them, Warren pears from Frog Hollow Farms; their texture and aroma hold up better with cheese, nuts and creamy dressing.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 15 minutes.

A pear and gruyere salad with head lettuce

(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Crispy Pear Caramel

The oat and almond crumbles cook over the pears and crackle on top while softening into a comforting chew where they meet the fruit juices. The extra crispy mixture cooks in a separate pan and becomes crunchy granola to sprinkle on top to serve.
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Cooking time: 1 hour.

Caramel pear crisp in a bowl, with an extra tray of granola-like toppings alongside.

(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Pear spice cake

This simple and humble spice cake is a showcase for pears. Anjou baked the best of the cake, so buy them a few days before you need them to ensure they’re ripe by the time you want to make the cake.
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Cooking time: 1h45.

A square of pear cake on a white plate

(Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

Grilled Blue Cheese and Pear Sandwich

Like many true comfort food classics, the grilled cheese sandwich is a great canvas for limitless combinations. Pears pair exceptionally well with blue cheese in this iteration. You want a blue cheese that isn’t too tangy, so look for a mild American or Danish blue cheese.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 25 minutes.

A stacked grilled blue cheese with a pear sandwich

(Bob Chamberlain/Los Angeles Times)

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Rozella J. Cook