Pear Dip Sure To Please

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - November 16, 2011
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Thanksgiving is next week, and I am featuring one of my favorite appetizers to share with friends and relatives.

It’s also an easy takealong for potluck dinners.

Serve it before dinner with some mulled cider or wine.

For a unique combination of flavors, serve this spicysweet dip with a platter of sliced green and red bell peppers, carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower florets.

Pears are native to the northern regions of central Asia, where they were found growing wild as far back as prehistoric times.

Pears were revered by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese, and have been cultivated for 3,000 years.


As a result of cross pollination, hundreds of varieties exist today.

Three varieties that are found most in Hawaii are:

* Anjou pear: This variety originated in France and is a medium size with a short neck. The flesh is very juicy, and it has a fine texture.

* Bartlett pear: Known in Europe as the Williams pear, this English variety was introduced into the U.S. by Enoch Bartlett of Massachusetts. The skin is golden when ripe, and the flesh is aromatic and good for baking.

* Bosc pear: Originally from Belgium, the skin of this pear is thicker and coarser than the above varieties, and is brown with some yellow. It has a long thin neck, and a juicy white flesh that is slightly granular in texture. It is a good pear for eating and poaching.

When purchasing, choose pears that are smooth and firm but not overly hard. They should be free of bruises and mold. When ripe, the pear has a delightful odor, and the flesh yields when pressed slightly with fingers.

Pears are quite perishable, and unripe pears should be left to ripen at room temperature.

When they ripen, they will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Pears should be stored away from strong-smelling foods, as they absorb odors easily.

Pears are rich in fiber and contain copper and potassium.

The nutrients in dried pears are much more concentrated; they are rich in potassium, and a good source of copper and iron, in addition to containing phosphorus, vitamin C, magnesium and sodium.


Ripe pears are said to have diuretic and sedative qualities.

Happy Thanksgiving!

HARVEST PEAR DIP

* 1 1/2 cups grated pear (any variety)
* 1 1/2 cups fat-free ranch dressing
* 1 tablespoon wasabi
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon allspice
* 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
* Salt and pepper
to taste

METHOD

Combine all ingredients and chill for about an hour.

Makes about 20 servings.

Approximate nutrition information per serving:

Calories 40
Fat .5 grams
Sodium 230 mg
Cholesterol 2 mg

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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