These grilled pears are summer’s best easy dessert

This summer's best easy dessert is grilled pears with ice cream, honey and black pepper. /Bethany Jean Clement/The Seattle Times/TNS

SEATTLE — Too many pears is a happy problem to have. At a sad time recently, someone sent a box of bereavement pears, not something to belabor here except to say that the gift — with one pear, mysteriously deemed special, wrapped in golden foil in the center of the cushioned box — actually helped in a small way, which is kind of all one can hope for at a sad time. We put them in a pretty bowl on the table and admired their curvy beauty; we ate them, the first few at ambient temperature, then chilled as they ripened all at once and it became apparent we had too many pears. It turns out that when it's hot out, eating a juicy chilled pear while standing in front of the open refrigerator can be a small moment of pure joy, if you let it be.

Trying to figure out what to do with the pears as the ripening tumbled made for a nice distraction. We weren't equal to anything remotely difficult, nor to anything involving a hot oven, which most pear recipes — both those gathered from an oversized personal library of cookbooks and those found by Googling "best pear dessert recipe" — require either or both of. While admittedly not rocket science, the idea for grilled (or not, depending) pears with vanilla ice cream, very good honey and black pepper took just about the amount of thought that was available and then yielded a reward that felt outsized in its cooling comfort and sweet joy.

Grilled Pears With Ice Cream, Honey and Black Pepper

The pears here — any kind, but ideally local and in season — should be ripe but still firm (wait for the point at which they give a little when gently pushed near the stem). Grilling them caramelizes their sugars a bit, complements their sweetness with a little smoke and gives them pretty grill lines. But if you're not feeling it and don't mind firing up the oven, you certainly could roast them according to any basic online recipe for roasted pears. Some crushed toasted almonds or another nut could be added for crunch, if you like, and/or a sprig of mint for garnish, if you've got any. But this is so good as is! And, truth be told, this extremely simple recipe also works well even simpler, skipping the grilling-or-roasting step altogether, especially if your pears are tending toward overripe, which won't hold up well to the heat.

1/2 or 1 pear per person, depending on size of pear/appetite of person

A tablespoon or 3 of grapeseed oil or another high-heat neutral oil

Your favorite vanilla ice cream

Honey (the fancier stuff is very well worth it here)

Fresh-ground black pepper

Clean your grill grate with a wire brush — a balled-up piece of aluminum foil works, too. Get your gas or charcoal to medium-high heat.

Cut the pears in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Brush the cut sides of your pear halves with oil using a pastry brush.

Lay the pears on the hot grill, cut side down, for 4-5 minutes; resist moving them for 2 minutes so you can get nice grill marks, then check for doneness. You want the cut side seared, with the flesh cooked throughout until tender.

Fill each pear with a scoop of ice cream, drizzle with honey, top with several grinds of pepper and eat immediately while treasuring the trees, the bees, summertime, life in general — all of it.

— Bethany Jean Clement

  photo  This summer's best easy dessert is grilled pears with ice cream, honey and black pepper. / Bethany Jean Clement/The Seattle Times/TNS