Pears are a great fruit for chilly October days

Pears are perfect for autumnal salads.

Pears are perfect for autumnal salads.

Contributed photo

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” — Humbert Wolfe

October days are filled with the ripe and robust flavors of fall. Local, fresh, fall fruits are particularly delectable. Crisp, juicy apples, creamy, curvy pears, luscious figs and gorgeous, globe shaped grapes are bursting with benefits for the body. These tantalizing ingredients are both sensual and satisfying. Whether roasted, sautéed, poached, baked into breads, crisps, muffins or cakes, or melted into sauces and soups, fall fruits are a seasonal sensation.

Pears are a particularly nutritious fall fruit. Rich in fiber, pears supply the body with significant amounts of fiber. Proper fiber intake assists the body’s elimination process, which can help minimize belly bloat, and combat constipation. A high fiber diet may also help manage cholesterol levels and potentially minimize the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Pears contain plenty of vitamins, including C, K, B2, B3 and B6. These important vitamins may help strengthen and protect the immune system and ward off disease.

Pears are a beautiful crop, colored with shades of rich red, deep yellow, and dusky tan. An excellent ingredient for many fall recipes, Bartlett, Anjou, Seckel, Bosc and Comice, are all available locally. The succulent flesh of a perfectly ripe pear is an exquisite addition to autumn salads, mixed into risotto, scattered in fruit salads, or juiced for cocktails. Under- ripe pears can be roasted, baked, stewed, cooked down with apples to make a wonderful sauce, or slow cooked into silken soup.

Pears partner well with warm, autumn spices such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger. Sautée pear slices with a bit of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger and serve as an accompaniment to crisp toasts spread with a rich, runny, Camembert or Brie cheese. Or spoon over ice cream, yogurt, tuck into crepes or top French toast with this warm, spicy goodness.

Long revered for their unique flavor, pears are 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 it sit at room temperature until ripened.

Enjoy these fruits of fall, just perfect for preparing a delicious life!

Fruits of Fall Salad

Serves 4-6

4 cups mixed baby lettuces

1 cup baby kale

1 cup arugula

2 perfectly ripe pears, washed and cut into thin slices

1 cup fresh grapes, preferably purple globe grapes, sliced in half

1 apple, washed and cut into thin slices

1 cup toasted walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 cup dried cranberries, soaked in warm water for a few minutes to just soften, then drained

1 cup shaved blue cheese or any cheese you desire

Toss all of the above ingredients together, gently in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In a glass jar, tightly capped, add ingredients and shake until well combined:

1 ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup olive oil

Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and drizzle over salad.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.