Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
Pears are the quintessential Italian dessert, usually served with cheese. Baked pears in wine are also popular, and in this recipe, I have treated them a little more upscale with a filling of apricots and marmalade that complements the flavor of the pears. Cooking them in the microwave is fast and the result is a dessert that takes minimal effort to prepare but looks like lots of time was spent in the kitchen.
8 dried apricots, diced (California apricots, not Turkish)
2 teaspoons orange marmalade
2 Anjou or Bartlett Pears, cut in half lengthwise and core removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup white dessert wine, such as Moscato
4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Mint leaves for garnish
Place the apricots in a small saucepan and pour in just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 1 minute. Drain the apricots and transfer them to a small bowl. Stir in the marmalade.
Place the pear halves on each of four individual microwave-safe bowls. Fill the cavities of each pear half with some of the apricot mixture. Dot the tops of each with a piece of butter.
Carefully pour 1/4 cup of the wine along the sides of each bowl. Cover each bowl with a sheet of wax paper.
Microwave the pears on high power for 5 to 6 minutes or just until the pears are soft but not mushy. Allow the pears to cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl beat the ricotta cheese with the sugar. Place a tablespoon of cheese on top of each pear half. Divide and sprinkle the nuts on top. Add a mint leaf for garnish and serve.
Note: If using a conventional oven, preheat the oven to 350, use oven-safe serving dishes or a pan large enough to hold all four halves. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, just until easily pierced with a fork. Arrange on serving dishes as above.