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What to do with... the leftover pears in the fruit bowl

Shout out to all the pear.

Image: Shutterstock/Anna Mente

PEARS ARE SWEET, juicy and pretty healthy too – in fact, they are one of the highest fibre fruits.

When buying pears, they should feel firm but not overly so. If a pear feels rock hard on a supermarket shelf, chances are it may have been picked too early and may never ripen to its peak. As with avocados, if you want to ripen your pears up quickly, leave them in a brown paper bag with some bananas, as this releases a gas that speeds up the ripening process.

But what happens when you are left with some pears that have surpassed the point of perfect ripeness? If you find yourself with some blemished looking pears in the fruit bowl, don’t bin then! Below are just a few of our favourite recipes.

Pear, bacon and blue cheese salad: Tangy blue cheese makes the perfect accompaniment to sweet pear, but if blue cheese isn’t your thing this would work equally well with goats cheese. Toss sliced pears in some olive oil and black pepper and fry in a griddle pan (or under a hot grill) for one minute on each side.

Fry some bacon in the same pan and slice into bitesize pieces. Set aside while you make the dressing; mix together honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season well. To serve, toss the pears and mixed leaves in the dressing, and top with bacon and crumbled blue cheese.

Pear tarte tatin: Add sugar to an ovenproof pan and heat on a hob until it starts to caramelise. Once it has turned a golden caramel colour, add in some butter and stir until combined. Slice pears lengthways and add these to the sugar mixture, cooking over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the pears are beginning to soften.

Roll out some readymade puff pastry until it is roughly the same size as the pan, and place this over the pears, tucking the excess into the pan at the edges. Bake in a hot oven for about 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Turn over onto a plate and serve immediately.

Source: Shutterstock/SEAGULL_L

Pear and almond muffins: In a large bowl, mix together 300g self raising flour, a teaspoon each of baking powder and cinnamon, and 100g caster sugar. In a separate bowl, mix two eggs, 250ml milk and 100g melted butter, then fold this into the dry mixture. Chop up leftover pears and add this to the batter, then spoon into muffin cases in a muffin tin. Top with flaked almonds, then bake at 200°C for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack until ready to eat.

Roasted parsnip and pear soup: In a large pot, fry onion, celery and garlic until soft. Add in chopped and peeled parsnips, pear, cumin and one litre of hot vegetable stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the parsnips are soft, then season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and blitz with a hand mixer until smooth. Stir in a spoonful of cream or crème fraiche, and serve with fresh crusty bread.

Pear frangipane tart: In a food processor, blitz together 180g each of butter and sugar until combined. Add in 3 beaten eggs, 170g ground almonds and 50g plain flour and mix again.

Roll out some ready made shortcrust pastry and use it to line a flan tin. Spoon the batter over the pastry, then top with sliced pears and some flaked almonds. Bake for 45 minutes at 200°C. Allow to cool slightly, then serve warm with creme fraiche.

More: What to do with… a stray bag of mixed nuts in the press>

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