Poached pears are sophisticated treat for anyone on a bland diet, as well as for those who are not. The sweet, floral aroma from the orange blossom water is enticing and offers a great... alternative to poaching pears in wine. These pears are delicious eaten chilled or at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the cores with a teaspoon. Make sure you cut away the hard remains of the flower at the bottom of the pear. Arrange the pears in a circle inside a high-sided saute pan, cut sides down, thin ends towards the center.
In a small bowl, mix together the honey, orange blossom water, water, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Pour the mixture over the pears and scatter the strips of orange peel over them. Warm the pan over medium-high heat until the liquid starts to boil, then turn the heat down to low. Cover the pan and poach at a low simmer until the pears are tender, about 30 minutes. Baste the pears with the syrup from time to time. About halfway through the cooking, check the liquid for sweetness. Add more of the remaining sugar, if desired, and a little more water if the pears look dry. Note: the syrup should be light and thin, not thick and sticky.
When the pears are just tender, turn the heat off, leave the lid on, and let the pears cool in the pan. They will continue cooking and give out more of their juices as they steam. Once cooled, arrange the pears on a serving dish cut side up. Serve chilled or at room temperature with the syrup and zest spooned over the fruit and a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side.
If you can’t find orange blossom water, just substitute plain water or apple juice. The taste won’t be the same, but the pears will still be delicious!