Pear-Parmesan-Pecan Crostini

 

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I made these earlier this week as an experiment, and since then I’ve made them twice more due to popular demand.

These little crostini make a great snack or appetizer or companion to tea. The interplay of flavors really is my favorite part. Upon first bite you immediately taste the sweetness of the honey and pears, and then as you continue to taste gradually the saltiness of the parmesan, toasted flavor from the nuts, and taste of rosemary come through. It starts out as one flavor and then almost completely changes… which has you reaching for a second one.

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Also, they’re very easy to make and, unlike a lot of appetizer recipes, the ingredients are easy to get.

Of course, when such simple ingredients are being used, quality is key. A few quick notes on ingredients—first, you can’t make a good crostini without good bread. The times I’ve made this I used a ciabatta baguette from Trader Joe’s and a rosemary baguette loaf from my local grocery store. Try to get something that has that nice outer crust and chewy interior—avoid the flaky/fluffy “French bread” that haunts many grocery store bakeries. Second, use a flaked or shredded parmesan rather than the crumbled wood pulp stuff. The aged flavor of a nice parmesan makes a difference. Lastly, since we all know pears are perfectly ripe for approximately 5 min, this is a great recipe to use over-ripe pears on. Just cut away any bruised bits and don’t worry.

So eat this, binge The Mindy Project or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt before their new seasons start next week, and enjoy.

Pear-Parmesan-Pecan Crostini

1 baguette

¼ scant c olive oil

2 cups parmesan cheese

1 c finely chopped pecans

2 T rosemary, finely chopped

½ c honey

1-2 pears

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil. Slice the baguette into ½ inch slices and spread across baking sheet. Brush each slice with a little bit of oil and then evenly distribute the parmesan cheese across the crostini. Stick in the oven and back for 7-10 minute until bread is toasted and cheese is melted and lightly browned. Transfer them to a cooling rack.

In the meantime, throw the pecans and rosemary into a skillet over medium-high heat and toast. Simply move them constantly with a wooden spoon for about 6 min or until they’re very aromatic. When they’re toasted, transfer them into a bowl and pour the honey over them, stirring until combined.

Thinly slice the pears and put 1-2 slices on each crostini (depending on size of both pear and crostini). Scoop about a generous teaspoon worth of the nut/honey combination on each crostini—you may want to heat up the honey in the microwave for a few minutes to make it more workable, or use two spoons to scoop it like cookie dough.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Lemon-Rosemary Gnocchi

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It was officially spring two weeks ago, but today it’s gray and overcast and the wind is biting and even my dog is avoiding going outside.

I love the fresh food and flavors of springtime cooking, but seeing as I’ve spent most of today under an electric blanket, I wanted some sort of comfort food as well. So here’s what I came up with.

This Lemon-Rosemary Gnocchi has the fresh, bright flavors of spring paired with a delicious, warm creamy sauce that makes it perfect for the post-winter-pre-spring blues. The soft gnocchi, indulgent pancetta, and warm cream make a surprisingly wonderful marriage with the bold peas, fresh lemon, and fragrant rosemary. It’s also a quick one-pot dish, which is my favorite kind for so many reasons.

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What else to put on the menu? I’d recommend serving with steamed veggies or roasted asparagus on the side. For dessert: a viewing of Enchanted April (1991). This sweet film, in the style of a Merchant-Ivory type production, tells the story of four women escaping the dreary winter who meet while on vacation in Italy. The beautiful surroundings and new friendships revitalize their lives and opens the door for love. A perfect viewing to escape a dreary day.

 

Lemon-Rosemary Gnocchi

Cooking Time: 30 min

Serves 6

2 lbs potato gnocchi

3 T olive oil

1 lb chicken breast

5 oz diced pancetta

2 heaping tsp minced garlic

2 T chopped fresh rosemary

Zest from 2 lemons

3 T butter

Juice from 1 lemon

1 c heavy cream

1 c grated parmesan

1 c peas

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the gnocchi according to the package’s instructions. Before straining, collect ¼ cup pasta water. Set pasta and pasta water aside.

Dice the chicken so that it’s roughly the same size as the gnocchi. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large pan, and then add the diced chicken along with half the pancetta and half of the garlic. Cook until chicken is lightly browned and the pancetta is crispy. Remove any excess fat and take the cooked meat out of the pan; set aside.

Add the rest of the pancetta and garlic into the pan. Once the pancetta is crispy, add in the butter, lemon zest, and chopped rosemary. Once the butter is melted, add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Slowly add the cream, stirring constantly, then sprinkle in the parmesan. Stir until the parmesan is melted and the sauce is creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I just added a few cracks of pepper).

Add the cooked chicken back in, stirring until hot. Then add cooked gnocchi and pasta water. Finally, add the peas and stir until hot.

Serve immediately with a sprinkling of parmesan and lemon zest.

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