Wine-Poached Pears with Ricotta Cream

Poached in a light red wine syrup, pears don’t immediately take up the color. But over several hours of steeping, they develop a deep burgundy hue. That color is just surface deep, however. When you slice and fan the pears, their creamy interior looks lovely against the ruby-red syrup. Serve with a dollop of whipped and sweetened ricotta or with whipped cream. From Eating Local by Janet Fletcher (Andrews McMeel)

  • 1 cup dry red wine with rich color, such as Zinfandel
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 strip orange zest
  • 2 ripe but firm pears
  • Ricotta Cream:
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon very finely minced pistachios

Put the wine, water, sugar and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Add them to the simmering liquid, setting them on one side. Cover with a round of parchment paper and tuck the edges of the parchment under the liquid to keep the paper in place. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Lift the parchment and turn the pears to the other side, then replace the parchment cover. Simmer until the pears are just tender when pierced, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remember that they will continue to cook as they cool so don’t overcook.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a refrigerator container. Simmer the poaching liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup. Cool the syrup completely, then pour it over the pears. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours, turning the pears in the syrup every couple of hours so they color evenly.

Make the Ricotta Cream:  Put the ricotta, sugar and vanilla extract in a food processor and blend until smooth.

To serve, cut the pears in half lengthwise and core with a melon baller. Put each pear half on a cutting board, cut side down. Thinly slice lengthwise, leaving the slices attached at the stem end.

Put a pear half on each of four dessert plates. Gently press on the pear half with your hand to fan the slices. Put a dollop of ricotta cream alongside and sprinkle the ricotta cream with pistachios. Spoon a little of the poaching syrup over the pears.

Serves 4