Simple Weeknight Suppers with Pears

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 12.29.11 PMBy Ellie Krieger

“Hectic family schedules don’t have to get in the way of serving up tasty and healthful weeknight dinners,” explains leading nutrition expert, cookbook author and television star Ellie Krieger, author of Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less. Krieger notes that pairing the unique sweetness of healthful, fresh pears with savory proteins like pork or chicken makes for a satisfying supper that can be made in a snap. “Pears are a perfect pick for weeknight dinners,” says Krieger. “Their distinctive flavor goes well in savory main dishes that are simple to make and will be enjoyed by the whole family.” Krieger’s recipe for Pork Chops with Pears in Port Wine Sauce from her new Weeknight Wonders cookbook will help add variety to the weeknight dinner routine, as will these other suppertime recipes that feature juicy USA Pears. For more great recipe ideas, visit usapears.org. Check the Neck for Ripeness Pears are best enjoyed at the peak of ripeness. The best way to judge whether a fresh pear is ripe, sweet and juicy is to “check the neck:” Press the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb, and if it yields to gentle pressure, it is ripe and ready to eat. To ripen your pears at home, keep them at room temperature. Display these beautiful fruits in a decorative bowl as you wait for them to ripen. To slow ripening, simply put the pears in the refrigerator.

Pork Chops with Pears in Port Wine Sauce
Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 12.29.01 PMMakes 4 Servings

3 large firm-ripe USA Pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou

Cooking spray

4,1/2-pound center-cut bone-in pork loin chops (about 3/4 inch thick)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup tawny port wine

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Peel and core the pears, then slice them into 1/2-inch-thick slices.   cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook, stirring once or twice, until warmed and slightly softened but they still retain their shape, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the pears to a plate.

Season the pork chops with the salt and pepper. Spray the skillet with cooking spray again, then add the pork chops and cook until just slightly blush in the center, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a second plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the broth and port to the skillet, raise the heat to high, and cook until the liquid is reduced bin the mustard and whisk until dissolved, then return the pears to the pan and stir to combine. Spoon the sauce over the chops and serve. 1 large USA Pear, such as Red Anjou or Bosc, cored and cut in matchsticks Toasted sesame oil to taste 12 large tender lettuce leaves, such as bib, butter or red leaf Cilantro sprigs

In small bowl, mix cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water to form smooth paste and set aside. Warm peanut oil in skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and white parts of scallion and stir-fry until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently until it breaks into small pieces and is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add chili sauce, hoisin and soy sauce, stirring to combine and evenly distribute ingredients. Add reserved cornstarch slurry and stir until sauce is clear. Finish with reserved scallion greens, pear matchsticks and a splash of sesame oil. To serve, place heaping tablespoon of filling in middle of lettuce leaf with few cilantro leaves, if desired. Wrap lettuce around contents, pick up with hands and eat.

Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Pears, Shallots and Wilted Spinach

Makes 4 servings

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 large USA Pears, peeled, cored and cut in 1/2-inch dice

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (about 4 sprigs)

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