Chef Tim Says...

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Chef Tim Says....

Roasting Fruit

roasted pears, apples, and plums garnished with a honey yogurt sauce

I was involved recently in teaching a Continuing Medical Education class to healthcare providers and roasted pears were part of the class. Everyone loved this technique and the recipe was a big hit. Roasting fruit is a great way to create a cheap, quick, and super sweet dessert, and you can do it with almost any fruit: pears, apples, peaches, apricots, nectarines, etc..

Growing up, I was not a big fan of pears and they can be something of an acquired taste. If you don't like a particular fruit, roasting fruit is one way for you to experience new flavors in fruits that you might not otherwise think of.

There are dozens of varieties of pears, but only a few are found in the market. Tree ripened pears are wonderful, but most of the year pears are available as under-ripe fruit. Unlike many fruits and vegetables, pears hold up pretty well when picked before they ripen. Good quality Anjou pears are full of sweet and succulent juice. They are short and squat without the classic tapered neck. Because they are slightly soft, they are not my first choice for cooking.

Bartlett pears are also a little soft and grainy for cooking but are excellent pears for eating raw. Bosc are winter pears and are have a tartness that cuts through the sweet pear flavor. I like them best for roasting because they are classically pear shaped and somewhat firmer. That firm texture lends itself well to cooking, and the true pear shape is perfect for presentation.

As I said, if you're going to roast fruit you certainly are not restricted to pears, but their texture is perfect for roasting. My favorite cooking apple is the Granny Smith. It is sweet but is balanced by a nice tartness that is perfect for roasting, just like the Bosc pear.

It's so easy to roast fruit. Just quarter the fruit and remove the seed(s). Place the fruit on a cookie sheet skin side down. Sprinkle with your choice of spices - the equivalent of about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of ground spice per fruit is about right - enough spice for a light dusting. Cinnamon or nutmeg are obvious choices and are a little more subtle, so you might need to use a bit more. For more intensely flavored spices like allspice, coriander, ground cloves, ground ginger, and the like, you may need less.

After you have seasoned the fruit, place them on a cookie sheet or in a pan in an oven at 325°F and roast for about 40 to 45 minutes.

You can go in some creative directions with this as well, to combine sweet and savory. A little bit of curry powder, ground cumin, chili powder, or even smoked paprika can work well, but like with the other intense spices, you need to be careful to avoid overdoing it.

There is everything to like about roasted fruit as a dessert. Cheap, simple, delicious, and great for you.