This recipe was inspired by Rachel Ray, the master of quick and easy desserts. The pears are mildly flavored, a light and refreshing dessert when served cold or at room temperature, which I recommend. They can also be glamorized for a more impressive and substantial dessert, by topping with Zabaglione or, as Rachel recommends, with French vanilla ice cream, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and fresh berries. Double or triple the ingredients as needed.
2 firm pears (Bosc or Anjou)
1 cup water
1 one-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
Vanilla ice cream
Fresh blueberries or raspberries
In a sauce pan, bring the water, ginger, lemon zest, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Peel, halve, and core the pears, leaving the stem on if desired. Add the pears to the saucepan and, when the liquid returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer the pears until tender throughout, approximately 12-15 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick through the thickest part of the pear. Remove the pan from the heat, cool the pears in the liquid, and refrigerate.
Divide the pears among dessert bowls and serve with the juices, sprinkling lightly with ground cinnamon to add a little color contrast and extra flavor. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired, with or without a spoonful of fresh berries (I recommend blueberries or raspberries).
For a more elegant dessert, spoon warm or cold zabaglione over the pears. This is absolutely luscious! The Zabaglione can be spiked with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or ground ginger, if desired, but it is wonderful plain. I especially liked the combination of room-temperature pears with freshly made warm Zabaglione. A very simple dessert, inexpensive to make, but oh so decadent-tasting!
Jamie Stolper is the ShalomBoston.com Food Editor.