This is an easy recipe to use up whatever pears are left over from that spicy noodle recipe last week. You can eat these succulent pears with cottage cheese or over ice cream, but we like them over whole grain pancakes with plenty of plain whipped cream and the poaching liquid instead of syrup.
Vanilla-Cardamom Poached Pears
2 lb sand pears
1/4 c water
1 c raw sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, slit
4 whole green cardamom pods, smacked in a mortar or with the bottom of a jar
a pinch of salt
Carefully scrub, quarter, peel, and core the pears. Any core left in will be unpleasantly hard when cooked, so make sure the entire core is removed. As the pears are peeled put them in a deep bowl and cover with water. Add the lemon half.
When all of the pears are finished, drain the water and discard. Put the pears in a deep sauce pan with 1/4 c clean water. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon half. Add the sugar and spices and a pinch of salt. Bring the pears and syrup to a full boil, stirring regularly, then turn to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the amount of liquid. The pears should be almost submerged. If necessary, add a tablespoon of water at a time to keep the pears mostly submerged.
After 30 minutes of simmering, take one piece out and taste it. If they’re not soft enough, keep cooking for another 15 minutes. I like to let mine simmer for at least an hour until they’re almost falling apart. Then let cool completely and store in a non-reactive container with the spices in the syrup. The spice flavor will intensify the longer the pears and syrup infuse. Enjoy!