This crostini is bringing to the fore the sublime combination of pear and cheese. The smokiness of the sweet-tart pear charred on the grill, and the hearty homemade sourdough bread with goat cheese melting on top, make for a satisfying bite. Serve this for lunch or as a quick bite. Better yet, I’m sure your mom would appreciate this pear crostini for breakfast, with a cup of latte, on Mother’s day!
The difficult decisions are selecting the pear and the cheese. We need pears that are firm, yet sweet, that hold up on the grill. I used a firm bosc. For cheeses, blue cheese, stilton or pecorino would work nicely. Yotam Ottolenghi, the author of this recipe, picks a good-quality goat cheese. I’m staying true to his recipe.
To make the crostini, first make the pine nuts and garlic paste. Brush the paste onto one side of the sourdough bread. Bake the slices of bread in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the pears. Cut the pears into thick slices, lengthwise. Give them a sugar-lemon juice treatment with a pinch of salt. Then they are ready for the piping hot griddle. Grill them long enough to produce those beautiful char marks. Assemble the crostini and top with the goat cheese. Melt the cheese under the boiler. A final drizzle of some good olive oil and chives, or whatever herbs you have on hand, complete the dish.
A few words about the sourdough bread: it was kinda a breakthrough baking for me. I have been experimenting with sprouted flours lately. The idea is that sprouted flours are better for the guts, because they are more easily digestible. I’ve turned out several good breads and some not so successful ones. I’m keen to push the envelop to include more whole grains in the dough—to perhaps over 50%, and without compromising the look and feel of open and tender crumb.
Yes, it finally happened… Not by design, but by mistakenly putting in an excess amount of water. I had no choice but to up my game and the hydration of the dough to the level with which I was barely comfortable. I fumbled and persevered. What’d emerged was a loaf of 50%+ sprouted whole wheat bread which was much better than any of this type of bread I’ve made before. That makes me happy and humble!
This post is also linked to IHCC where other home cooks are making the “bready” things similar to this crostini. To make life simple, you can always buy some good bread, but make the crostini.
It is also linked to the Fresh Loaf.
Pear CrostiniPrint Recipe
- 1/4 cup or 30g pine nuts
- 5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 1 garlic clove
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 4 slices sourdough, 1 1/2 inch thick
- 3 semi-ripe pears, unpeeled
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 to 5oz or 120g good quality goat's cheese
- chervil or fresh watercress and purple basil
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Put the pine nuts, four tablespoons of oil, garlic, a pinch of salt and a little pepper in the bowl of a food processor and work to a coarse, wet paste. Use a brush to spread on one side of each slice of bread, then lay these on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly coloured. Remove and leave to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, stand each pear on a chopping board and trim off a thin layer of the skin from each side. Then cut each pear lengthways into four thick slices. Remove the core with the tip of a knife. Place the slices in a bowl along with a tablespoon of oil, sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Toss gently.
Take a ridged griddle pan and place on high flame until piping hot. Lay in the pear slices and leave for about a minute, then flip over and leave for another minute, to get char marks on both sides. Remove with a pair of tongs, trying not to break the pears.
To assemble the crostini, thinly slice the cheese and arrange over the toasts, alongside the pears. You want to be able to see both clearly, so allow them to overlap and rest on each other to create height. Put the crostini in the hot oven for three to four minutes to warm through and for the cheese partly to melt. Remove from the oven.
Garnish the crostini with chervil leaves or whatever herbs you have on hand. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot or warm.