Celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the new year for the trees, with recipes that roast tree fruits — apples and pears — to highlight their natural goodness. (This year Tu B’Shevat is from the evening of Jan. 26 until sundown Jan. 27.)
Lemon and ginger give Roasted Pears with Almond Filling some zing that’s mellowed by butter and almond paste. Try serving it with caramel sauce for a decadent dessert.
Sweet and savory toasted spices give chunky Roasted Apples with Warm Spices a deep, complex flavor that works as a dessert (topped with yogurt) or a side dish.
Roasted Pears with Almond Filling
- 6 ripe or almost ripe Bartlett or D’Anjou pears (see Notes)
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. lemon juice, divided
- 1 cup water
- 5-6 oz. purchased almond paste or plain marzipan
- 1 Tbs. finely grated fresh, peeled ginger
- 2 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
- Caramel sauce, purchased or homemade (see Notes), optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use ½ Tbs. butter to heavily grease an approximately 8×12-inch baking dish. Mix ¼ cup of lemon juice with water in a large bowl.
Peel pears. Cut each in half from top (stem) to bottom. (Remove a thin slice from the uncut side if needed to stabilize so it sits flat.) Use a small, sharp knife to carve out the core in each half, leaving a ½-inch margin from the top and bottom ends, creating a cavity in the middle of each half (be careful not to cut through bottom of pear). As each pear half is prepped, set it into the lemon juice and water mixture until ready to fill.
Remove a pear half from lemon water. Stuff cavity with about 1/12th of the almond paste, shaping and pressing in paste to fill the space. Place filled pear stuffed side up in baking dish. Repeat with remaining halves. Discard lemon water.
Sprinkle pear halves with 2 Tbs. lemon juice and grated ginger. Cut remaining butter into small pieces. Scatter on top of pears. Bake uncovered 30 minutes until the tops and edges are lightly browned in spots. Spoon liquid over tops of pears. Loosely cover pan with aluminum foil. Continue baking until pears are soft but hold their shape, about 30 minutes (timing will vary). Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with pan liquid and caramel sauce.
Notes: About 2½ lbs. pears total. Do not use very soft (overripe) or hard (unripe) pears. Try topping pears with Honey Caramel Sauce.
Roasted Apples with Warm Spices
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- ¼ tsp. roasted ground cumin
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 lbs. Pippin, Granny Smith or other tart apples (about 12 small apples, each 3½ to 4 oz.)
- 1 Tbs. oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup plain yogurt, optional
Heat a small fry pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, stir in the coriander, cumin, ginger and cinnamon. Toast spices, stirring constantly, for about 20 to 30 seconds until aromas are released. Set aside a heaping ¼ tsp. of the mixed spices for optional garnish.
Core apples and cut into 1-inch chunks. Do not peel. There should be about 8 cups of apples.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an approximately 10×14-inch baking dish with oil. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the vinegar and remaining toasted spices.
Place apples, spices and liquid in prepared pan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Stir. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake until the apples are tender but still hold their shape (about 20 to 30 minutes, timing will vary). If pan dries out during roasting, stir in 1 or 2 Tbs. water. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with yogurt and sprinkled with reserved spice mix.