Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > Food> Cook > Making salad, dessert and art with pears

Making salad, dessert and art with pears

The many ways to use pears; from salads to tikkas and chutneys to desserts

Pears and Rocket Salad; and Roasted Pears from Brunch to Dessert.
Pears and Rocket Salad; and Roasted Pears from Brunch to Dessert. (Nandita Iyer)

Pears, cherished for their beauty and aesthetics, emerged as favoured subjects for renowned post-Impressionist masters such as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. Even the Impressionist luminary Claude Monet was inspired by their form. The allure of pears, perhaps heightened by their accessibility in these geographies, made them a captivating motif within the realm of still-life art. You can bring this fine art to your kitchen table by placing a bowl of pears on it—not just for art’s sake, but also for health. Pears are abundant in fibre, at around 6g per medium-sized fruit, second only to raspberries in the fruit world.

Also read | A fruit that represents birth, sex and death

I have terrible childhood memories of eating tooth-breakingly hard local pears. Luckily, exposure to softer and juicer ones from Uttarakhand (or South Africa for that matter) in recent times has rewritten over those memories, making me start liking pears.

When purchasing pears, a useful tip is to opt for slightly underripe ones. Since pears don’t change colour as they ripen, a handy trick involves gently pressing near the stem end of the fruit. If the flesh yields slightly, the pear is ready to enjoy—though this rule might not apply to certain stony hard pear varieties. To facilitate the ripening process, leave the pears at room temperature. If you are looking to speed up the process, consider placing them alongside bananas, as bananas release ethylene gas, which accelerates ripening. Once the pears have reached their desired ripeness, refrigerate them for a shelf life of three-four days.

Once a pear is perfectly ripened, you have a very small window to enjoy it, even if refrigerated. It helps that pear can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes, beyond just eating them as is. Pears have a thin skin and a lot of its fibre and antioxidant content comes from the peel, so it is ideal to eat the fruit with the peel on.

• Pears with their high fibre content are a great addition to breakfast—be it to muesli, yogurt bowl, porridge bowl or to muffins made with rolled oats, seeds and nuts.

• They make the perfect fruit for a cheese platter or a grazing board as its mildly tart sweetness complements the saltiness of cheeses and crackers to the T. Choose a mix of red and green pears for a vibrant coloured platter.

• Sliced pears combined with goat’s cheese and caramelised onions make a brilliant topping for crostini and bruschetta to serve as an appetiser.

• Pears bring their delicious fruitiness to a salad made with sharp rocket and toasted walnuts.

• Add cubed pears along with paneer to a yogurt-spice marinade, skewer and grill to make pear-paneer tikkas. Slightly firm and not fully ripe and squishy pears work well for this.

• Pears can be preserved in jams, chutneys and spiced butters.

• Pears poached in spiced red wine until tender and served with vanilla ice cream is a classic dessert that never fails to please.

• Pears lend themselves to delicious pies and tarts just like apples.

Also read | 29 things to do with rosemary

Pear and rocket salad

Serves 2


2 handfuls of rocket leaves

1 ripe green pear

2 tbsp dried cranberries

2 tbsp toasted walnuts

For the dressing

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar

Quarter tsp each salt and crushed black pepper


Wash and dry the rocket leaves.

Halve, core and slice the pear.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing with a whisk or fork until thick and creamy.

Scatter the rocket leaves on a plate. Top with pear slices and dried cranberries. Chop the walnuts into smaller pieces and scatter over the salad. Top with prepared dressing and serve immediately.

Roasted pears from brunch to dessert
Serves 2-4


2 pears

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Fat pinch of cinnamon powder

Sprig of thyme or mint

To serve:

Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Heat a small cast iron pan. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt. Cut the pears in half, scoop out the core and place them cut side down on the buttered pan. Let this cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the cut surface turns golden brown.

Place this pan in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Flip the pears, reduce the heat to 180 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove to a dish, cut side up and top with honey, balsamic vinegar and ground cinnamon. Garnish with a sprig of thyme or a few mint leaves.

Serve with Greek yogurt for a delicious brunch dish and with vanilla ice cream to make it a dessert.

Double Tested is a fortnightly column on vegetarian cooking, highlighting a single ingredient prepared two ways. Nandita Iyer’s latest book is The Great Indian Thali—Seasonal Vegetarian Wholesomeness (Roli Books). She posts @saffrontrail.

Also read | What exactly are superfoods—and do you need them?

Next Story