Sweet Vanilla Bean Risotto with Poached Seckel Pears

Despite the warm weather we have been having in the tri-state area (no complaints here) the fall season is in full swing at the Union Square Greenmarket. The end of summer tomatoes are at their sweetest peak and still shining amongst the varieties of apple, cauliflower, kale, squash and a fruit that caught my eye — the petite seckel pear.

Although not equal in size to your average pear, these near bite-size morsels are just as flavorful and sweet. The apples have been really tasty this season and last year at this time I made apple turnovers that are definitely worth a try. 

My original intention was to make a butternut squash risotto (I love all things butternut squash) but these darling seckel pears stole the show from the golden-yellow, long-necked bowling pin shaped squash. Because I was so determined to make a risotto I decided to turn my savory dish into a sweet treat—vanilla bean risotto with poached seckel pears. 

Recipe for Sweet Vanilla Bean Risotto with Poached Seckel Pears

Poached Seckel Pears


  • 15 seckel pears
  • 1 cup of natural sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of pear cider
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons of golden raisins



  1. Make a sugar syrup in a medium sauce pan with the water, cider, sugar and vanilla. While the liquid comes to a boil peel the pears leaving the stem on. 
  2. Poach the pears in the sugar syrup on a low heat for about 15 minutes or until soft. Place the raisins in the sugar syrup after 10 minutes of poaching. 
  3. Remove the pears and raisins from the sugar syrup to cool.

note: if you have leftovers store the pears with the sugar syrup in the refrigerator for future use.

Vanilla Bean Risotto


  • 1 cup of Arborio rice
  • 4 ½ cups of whole milk
  • ¼ cup of natural sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese



  1. In a small pot combine the whole milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, cinnamon stick and salt. Bring to a low simmer but do not boil. Keep the mixture warm while cooking the risotto.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, until the rice is coated with the butter.
  3. Begin adding the milk, 1 ladle at a time to the rice and stir constantly until the milk is absorbed. You need to repeat this a few times until all the milk is absorbed. The rice should be al dente.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the mascarpone cheese and stir. The mixture should be creamy and loose. 

Note: the longer the risotto sits the thicker it will become. If this happens add some more milk.


Spoon 3 heaping tablespoons of the risotto into a bowl or glass. Top with 3 poached seckel pears, a few golden raisins and a drizzle of the sugar syrup.

Serve warm. If you have leftovers simply refrigerate and serve again. Heat the risotto over low heat and loosen with a dash of milk.

Serves: 5