Harvest of the Month featured produce for October: Pears | SierraSun.com

Harvest of the Month featured produce for October: Pears

Thinkstockphotos.comThe first Harvest of the Month features the pear: once called a gift of the Gods.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The chill in the air signals fall and the start of the Harvest of the Month program in Tahoe Truckee Unified School District elementary schools. This will be the fifth year of bringing the Harvest of the Month fresh, seasonal and California grown produce to elementary school children in their classrooms. Children not only taste and explore various familiar, and not so familiar, fruits and vegetables, but they learn nutrition, growing information and historical facts as well. The Harvest of the Month program is provided through the support of school PTOand#8217;s, individual donations, and the time and energy of a group of motivated volunteers. Each month we will share information about the produce we taste along with a recipe from a local chef. We encourage you follow along with us and try the featured produce and perhaps a new recipe too.

Pears are one of the oldest cultivated fruits. In the Odyssey, the poet Homer calls pears a and#8220;gift of the godsand#8221; and Roman farmers kept extensive documentation on pear growing and grafting techniques. Early colonists brought pears to America where they grew well on the East coast until they succumbed to widespread crop blights. Fortunately, pear trees brought west with the pioneers of the 1800s thrived in California, Oregon and Washington. These states now produce 98 percent of all pears grown in the United States.

Pears play an important role in supporting optimum health and nutrition. They are an excellent source of fiber and one medium pear provides about a quarter of your daily needs. Fiber is important in weight management and helping you feel full. Fiber may also help lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. Pears are also a good source of Vitamin C, which is important for tissue health and immunity.

Pears ripen better off of the tree and they ripen from the inside out. Pears are picked when they are mature, but still green. After purchasing pears, ripen them at room temperature. You can speed up ripening by putting pears in a paper bag or placing them near apples or bananas. Test for ripeness by pressing gently near the stem. If it feels a little soft, it is ready to eat. Enjoy pears as a snack, in salads, or baked.

Julia Walter, executive chef at the River Ranch, has shared her recipe for Roasted Pear Salad. A graduate of-Johnson and Wales Culinary School, Julia strives to incorporate seasonal and healthy ingredients in her style of cooking. Take advantage of the bountiful pear supply and enjoy this tasty fall salad soon!

and#8212; Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Wellness Dietitian. The Nutrition Coalition is funded and supported by the Tahoe Forest Health System through the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. Contact us at 530-587-3769, ext. 7126 or mmartin@tfhd.com.

Serves 4

2 Bartlett pears, halved and cored

1 bunch of rosemary

1/4 cup of honey

1/8 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. shallot, chopped

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup blue cheese

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, and chopped

2 cups arugula

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pear halves on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with honey and place rosemary sprigs on top of pears. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Remove rosemary and slice pears.

2. Prepare dressing by whisking together vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Toss arugula with dressing. Divide onto 4 salad plates. Add sliced pears, blue cheese crumbles and walnuts.

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