Well, it’s happened. It finally feels like fall here in Birmingham. It was a brilliantly zippy 43 degrees this morning, with clear blue skies and low humidity—the kind of day when your hair looks good and you feel so invigorated that you almost forget it’s a Monday. This change in weather brings about more seasonal stirrings—sloughing off summer’s desire for salads and peaches and urging on comforting, hearty tastes like butternut squash, braised meat, and root vegetables. And it’s finally pear time, both in the stores and, to my delight, in my backyard, where our pear tree has begun to rain down big, fat, goodies. Yesterday, I picked two bucketfuls of beautifully imperfect, mottled-skinned fruit in about five minutes’ time.

Unlike some fruits and veggies that you can find reasonably tasty samples of year-round (like apples, asparagus, even strawberries), pears are truly tied to their season. If you can find them in, say, spring, they won’t hold up to the fragrant globes of autumn—heavy with juice, honey-sweet in flavor. Now is the time to embrace pears. If you don’t, you’ll regret letting them get away from you.

Try them in desserts: I love Stilton-Stuffed Baked Pears, which is a perfect marriage of flavors—sharp and pungent blue cheese, toasty pecans, and sweet pears. Enjoy them in salads, like Candied Walnut, Pear, and Leafy Green Salad. Or leverage their sweetness against savory tastes, as in our Pear and Prosciutto Pizza.