Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah


Serves 6

  • 6 pears (firm but not hard), quartered and seeds removed but stems left on

  • 2 Tbls. honey mixed

  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar

  • 1/4 cup shredded halvah (sesame seed “candy” found in Mediterranean markets)

  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts, sliced or slivered almonds or pistachios

  • 1 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds (black seeds if possible)

  • 1 cup crème fraîche

  • 1 Tbls. powdered sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. They should not be squished together. Drizzle with honey and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Sprinkle with cardamon-sugar mixture and roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy.

Whip the crème fraîche and powdered sugar just until soft peeks form.

Divide the cooked pears among individual dishes and spoon remaining juices left in the baking dish over pears.

Place a dollop of crème fraîche on each serving.

Garnish with the shredded halvah, nuts and sesame seeds.

Homemade Crème Fraîche:

Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover with a towel or cheese cloth and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.

Spinach Stems with Walnut Sauce

Spinach Stems With Walnut Sauce

Serves 4

I like to serve this salad with an assortment of roasted peppers, olives, cheeses and cured meats as an appetizer. The walnut sauce is also delicious on chicken, spread on toast and with other vegetables.

  • Stems from 3 lbs. spinach, some tops are ok too
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 cup ground toasted walnuts 
  • 1 slice rustic bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 Tbls. water, or as needed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the spinach stems, onions, and olive oil in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until stems are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Lift out and discard the onion. Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve or colander and let drain for 15 minutes.

To make the walnut sauce, combine the ground nuts, soaked bread, vinegar, olive oil, and 3 Tbls. water in a small bowl. Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper. Salt is the key ingredient for the balance here. The sauce should be thick but spreadable. If it is too thick, add the remaining 1 Tbls. water and taste again for seasoning.

Place the well-drained spinach stems in a serving bowl, pour the sauce over the stems and stir. Allow to marinate for a few hours or as long as overnight. Serve at room temperature. 

Adapted from Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean, Joyce Goldstein