With over 3,000 varieties of pears grown worldwide, there is fruit available in almost every month of the year. But autumn brings bushels of local pears and iconic varieties like Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice and Seckel. It’s also a good time to get to know lesser-known types, such as Forelle, Concorde and Starkrimson.
Sameh Wadi, chef-owner of Saffron Restaurant and Lounge in Minneapolis, is particularly fond of the Forelle. “This variety has less water content so it’s a bit crunchier. It’s also a sexy pear—very pretty with red freckles on green skin,” he says. At market-driven Saffron, which showcases his native Palestinian cuisine, Wadi shaves pears into salads, slow-cooks them with dates and lamb shanks and bakes them into desserts. But he feels that the crunchiness of Forelles pairs especially well with seafood, so he created Alaskan King Crab with Pear Tabbouleh Salad to play up this partnership.
“In my indigenous cuisine, pears are used more for sweetness and would usually be stewed, but I like the way their raw, crisp texture contrasts with the soft, briny sweetness of the crab,” Wadi explains. The Forelles add another layer of flavor and texture to the grassy tabbouleh salad as well, he adds. Wadi originally featured this dish as part of a five-course tasting menu.
October is a funny month in Minnesota, the chef admits, but he tries to source as much local produce as possible before winter.