Poached pears with white wine, cardamom, and saffron

This is a perfumed, unique take on poached pears. A few notes: (1) It is worth it to get saffron for this recipe; it adds a depth and complexity to the flavor. (2) If I want more sauce, I tweak this recipe by dumping in more wine and adding a bit more sugar and cardamom. (3) The sauce is excellent over yogurt. Adapted from Yottam Ottolenghi.


  • 2 T cardamom pods
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1.5 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 t teaspoon saffron threads
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 firm pears (bosc is good), peeled
  • crème fraîche for garnish


  1. Gently crush cardamom with a rolling pin or wooden spoon to slightly crack open pods without releasing seeds.
  2. Core the pears:
  3. Combine cardamom, wine, sugar, lemon juice, saffron, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium high, stirring until sugar dissolves, until the mixture is simmering.
  4. Add pears, then cover with enough water or wine to submerge them. (Note: using a smaller pan will require less liquid.)
  5. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to let out steam, then simmer for about 25-30 minutes, turning the pears half way. (Note: if your pears are softer, the cooking time will be less.)
  6. When the pears are cooked but not mushy, transfer them to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  7. Heat remaining liquid to a boil and reduce to 1 cup, cooking for about 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve by spooning syrup over pears and placing a dollop of crème fraîche on top.

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