I have to confess something fairly serious. This whole food blogging thing? I kind of suck at it. I mean, besides the constant pressure of dreaming up new dishes to document at home, we are pretty much expected to tote our cameras everywhere and snap up every last crumb to cross our lips. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but it’s certain that a standard has been set. Thanks to food bloggers, it’s not uncommon to be eating in a restaurant and see the person at the next table photographing each and every plate to touch their table.

I’m not one to take photographic note of everything I eat out of my house, but I would absolutely make an exception when being invited to a special just-for-foodies pear themed dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. This explains why when I went to bed the night before, I made sure the memory card was in my camera, not the computer, and also why I dutifully took out my camera batter to charge it. There would be nothing worse than running out of battery halfway through the second course of pears carefully selected and prepared by chef Jody Adams herself.

Except forgetting your camera battery so you can’t take any pictures at all. See, I told you I’m a bad blogger.

So instead you’ll just have to take my word for it. That Concorde pears, delicately shaved and tossed with a touch of bitter greens and blue cheeses makes for a better and more interesting salad than green garnished with pears. And that Bartlett pears, pickled and pureed, make an intriguing accompaniment to sweet and sour mackerel escobeche, finished with pine nuts and currants. If you’ve never taken a melon baller to a pear, you just might miss the sweet roasted Forelle pears amidst crispy brussels sprouts and bacon under a mustard-crusted braised chicken leg. And finally, how a dainty little Seckel pear becomes the perfect match for a deep dark chocolate tart after taking a bath in warm ginger.

All of this was the result of an invitation from the fabulously fun women at USA Pears to join them at an exclusive dinner at Rialto, where we not only learned about all the varieties of pears, but got to experience them in four uniquely separate preparations. The evening was filled with fun facts and good conversation. Fortunately, Megan was at my table and got some great shots, if you’d like to see what went down.

I may not have come home with pictures, but I didn’t leave empty-handed either. Along with a fun swag bag, I left with an intense craving for – you guessed it – more pears. I quickly penciled in “pears” for every day of the following week’s meal plan.

We started off with this pear pizza. Pears and blue cheese are a fairly standard combination, for good reason: the delicate, sweet pear is the perfect contrast to the sharp, earthy cheese. I piled these on top of a rosemary-spiced chickpea crust along with some hazelnuts, and while it baked, tossed arugula with a quick vinaigrette made from cinnamon-pear balsamic vinegar (a fun treat from my Portland vacation.) The result was a deliciously sweet and savory pizza with just the right amount of bite from the peppery arugula and vinaigrette. I’m including extra photos, to make up for the  lack of pictures I took at Rialto. I wouldn’t want your pear cravings to go unsatisfied, trust me.

 

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Pear & Blue Cheese Pizza with Arugula and Hazelnuts

Yield: Makes a 12" pizza, serves 2

Ingredients:

Crust:
1/2 packet yeast (4gm)
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup (90gm) chickpea flour
2 teaspoons (6gm) vital wheat gluten*
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
pinch of salt

Toppings:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 of a large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of a large pear, thinly sliced
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 oz hazelnuts, chopped
2 cups arugula
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes, or until foamy.

Combine the chickpea flour, vital wheat gluten, rosemary and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture and mix with the dough hook, until thoroughly combined. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and turn the dough into the bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Saute the onions until soft and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Tear off a large rectangle of parchment paper and place it onto a work surface. Turn the dough onto the paper. Using a rubber spatula, gently spread the dough into a 12" circle. Carefully slide the parchment, with the crust, onto pizza stone or baking sheet. Scatter the onions, pears, blue cheese, and hazelnuts evenly over the crust. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is crisp and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and syrup. Toss with the arugula in a large bowl.

When pizza is done, immediately top with the dressed arugula.

*Can be omitted to make the recipe gluten-free.

Nutrition Facts:

Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 408.3
Total Fat 18.2 g
Saturated Fat 6.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 7.2 g
Cholesterol 21.3 mg
Sodium 823.9 mg
Potassium 328.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 44.3 g
Dietary Fiber 10.5 g
Sugars 7.3 g
Protein 19.5 g

Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com


This post is featured on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 10/18/2011. Make sure to stop by for the roundup up (healthier) treats!

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