Did you get pears as a holiday gift? They are a common gift, and last year I told you all about how I discovered the beauty of pears paired with blue cheese thanks to the pears I was sent for Christmas.

This year, we were given more pears, and I decided to see how else I could use them in an unexpected way. I also had a few sweet potatoes that needed to be used up. Not knowing what I would find, I went to Allrecipes.com and typed in sweet potatoes and pears in the ingredient search. To my surprise, there were five recipes. I chose this mashed sweet potato ‘n’ pears side dish to make for dinner last night. It was a great way to use up some seasonal ingredients that I had on hand.

This was something very different for my family. My husband and I liked it, but it took us a few minutes to get it through out heads that it wasn’t going to be as sweet and dessert-like as my sweet potato casserole I serve at the holidays. Once we got used to the milder flavor, we realized it was pretty good.

My mom, who is staying with us for a while, really liked it, and is looking forward to the leftovers today for lunch. My boys, well, this was a very different dish and they wouldn’t even try it. It would be really great if this food writer’s children had adventurous palates, but they don’t. As my 10-year-old has told me, “Mom, it’s your job, not mine.”

Okay, on to the recipe. I changed it a bit. The original recipe called for canned pears and I used fresh. I also added a little vanilla as some of the reviewers of the recipe suggested, and I halved the amounts in the original recipe.

Mashed sweet potatoes and pears
  • 4 cups of cubed, peeled sweet potatoes
  • 2 very ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
1. Cover cubed sweet potatoes with water in a pot, and cook until soft.
2. Drain, add the rest of the ingredients and mash with a potato masher.

My notes

  • If the pears aren’t soft enough to mash easily, place them in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up.
  • There is no salt in the recipe. I found that adding a little salt at the table brought out some of the flavor, but my husband and my mom didn’t see the need for the salt.
  • I served it with honey baked chicken – one my family’s favorite dishes that I make with a delicious local wildflower honey. I wasn’t sure if it would be a complementary side dish, but it was.  

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Seasonal recipe: Mashed sweet potatoes and pears
Sweet potatoes and ripe pears pair surprisingly well in this quick, easy side dish.