Pear Crostini

Crostini, which means “little toasts” in Italian, is one of my favorite things to eat. You can top them with pretty much anything that suits your fancy. This version is simply divine. Artisanal cheese paired with a bit of sweetness is always a match made in heaven, in this instance it is creamy goat cheese & sweet pears. Warm honey and gorgonzola is another favorite pairing of mine. Choose pears that are firm, yet sweet and slightly tart. Super-ripe pears, as delicious as they are, will overcook and turn mushy. Serve with a glass of crisp white wine.

serves 4
adapted from: Plenty

¼ cup pine nuts
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 garlic clove, peeled
salt & black pepper

4 large slices sourdough bread, cut 1 ½” thick (or feel free to use smaller slices from a French baguette)
3 semi-ripe pears (unpeeled)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
4-5 oz good-quality goat cheese
picked chervil leaves or parsley to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the pine nuts, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a coarse, wet paste. Use a brush to apply to one side of every bread slice. Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

While the bread is in the oven, prepare the pears. Stand each pear on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to trim off a very thin layer of the skin from each side. Then cut each pear lengthwise into four thick slices. Remove the core with the tip of the knife. Place the slices in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Toss gently.

Take a ridge griddle pan and place on a high heat until piping hot. Lay the pear slices gently in the pan and leave for about a minute on each side, just to make char marks. Turn carefully and then remove with tongs, trying not to break the pears.

To assemble the crostini, slice the cheese thinly and arrange over the toasts, alongside the pears. Place the crostini in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, just to warm up and for the cheese to partly melt. Remove from the oven.

Garnish the crostini with the fresh chervil or parsley, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot or warm.

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