Chinese medicine says that pears are very cooling to the body — a good thing if you are going through chemo or radiation — and Western medicine likes the antioxidant properties of blueberries for... healthy cell growth. That makes these Poached Pears With Wild Blueberry sauce a winning combo and a sweet, comforting treat. Add a dollop of thick Greek yogurt on the side, and this simple dessert becomes an even more special treat.
Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the cores with a teaspoon and remove the stems. In a shallow, heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, arrange the pears in a circle, cut-sides down, thin ends pointing towards the center.
Pour the maple syrup and water over the pears. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the lemon peel, cover the pan and poach, basting the pears with their juices occasionally, for 15 minutes. Turn over the pears, and continue to cook, covered, for another 15 minutes, or until tender. If the pears look too dry, add a little more water. Turn off the heat and keep covered in the pan until ready to eat or until the pears have cooled to room temperature.
While the pears are cooking, pour the blueberries into a small saucepan, reserving ⅓ cup for later. Add 1 tablespoon of water, then bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until a syrup has formed. Push the berries and their syrup through a fine sieve with a wooden spoon then return the sauce to the pan. Discard the leftovers in the sieve.
Transfer the pears to a serving plate. Discard the lemon peel and pour the cooking liquid into the saucepan with the wild blueberry syrup. Bring to a boil. Cook until the syrup thickens a little, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved blueberries. Cook for a few seconds more, then turn the heat off. Remove saucepan from the stove and cool slightly.
If eating warm, spoon the sauce over the pears and serve. If eating cool, wait until the wild blueberry sauce has cooled.
The wild blueberry sauce will keep for several days in the fridge. It is delicious over pancakes, ice cream, or even drizzled onto rice pudding.
To serve this dish chilled, make it ahead of time and chill the poached pears in the fridge on a plate, cut side down, and cover with plastic wrap. Make the sauce as in step 4 and chill separately in a container. Bring the sauce to room temperature before drizzling over the cold pears.