It was Valentine’s Day, and instead of wrangling a reservation in a cramped restaurant we spent time planning a menu, shopping, and cooking together. We were in search of fresh figs for our appetizer which were woefully out of season. It’s hard to beat the enchantment of figs for indulging in simple pleasures. But alas, there were no figs.
Enter the modest pear.
Pears are similar to figs in their voluptuous shape and uniquely textured flesh, but more widely available and easier to budget. While figs might seem more romantic, the humble pear can certainly work its own magic. Just pour a glass of white Bordeaux and eat a supple, ripened pear from the hand of your sweetheart …
Well, you get the idea.
In this case, you won’t want the pear to be quite ripe. Rather, choose one that is more firm and let the heat of the oven soften and sweeten it. Maple Lacquered Duck Breast was our main course, so we wanted a starter that was easy, yet elegant. The tangy-sweet balance of cheese and pear is delicious warm or cooled (we continued to enjoy it with dinner).
This Pear & Goat Cheese Appetizer is so easy to put together, it hardly requires a recipe, but I’ve provided one as a guide for oven temp and timing. The measurements are approximate—in my opinion more goat cheese is always better—so use your eyes more than your scale. Serve with crackers or crusty bread for special dinners, parties, or any excuse to nosh and linger.
- 1 firm red pear (such as Red Anjou, Red Bartlett, or Starkrimson)
- 3 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
- walnut pieces (for garnish)
- honey (for garnish)
- aged balsamic (for garnish)
- Heat oven to 375°F. Slice pear and arrange on an oven-safe platter or plate. Dot with goat cheese. Sprinkle walnut pieces over the pear and goat cheese.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned in spots. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey and balsamic, as desired.