By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Legends From Europe and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time and all opinions expressed are my own.
I know it’s still October, but I’m missing my kids and I have Thanksgiving on my mind. It’s no secret that I love to cook, and I especially love to cook for other people, so I’m already planning the menu and counting down until Thanksgiving break!
It’s funny that even though Thanksgiving dinner is a really huge deal for most of us, it’s one of those meals where people have definite taste expectations. My own family is pretty adventurous in their eating, but if I try something really different for Thanksgiving, there is often a sense of disappointment…”but where are the regular mashed potatoes…”, or “what’s with the apples in the stuffing…?” So I try to not stray too far from our traditional dishes. I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve tried millions of stuffing recipes and although I’ve found some really good ones, on the big day, I really prefer the version I grew up with – onions, celery, and carrots with regular old white bread. So I’ll probably take a chance and make my Curried Sweetpotato Bisque, for a special starter, but mostly I try to get creative with my appetizers. They’re kind of like the little jewels on the crown of Thanksgiving dinner. This one is pretty, and perfect for nibbling on between any football games and dinner. It features sweet, ripe pears, which are a favorite fall fruit, and Montasio Cheese, which as I mentioned in my last post, is my new favorite, imported Italian cheese.
I’ve seen recipes for fancy Parmesan crisps using melted and baked Parmesan cheese, and since Montasio is a similar hard cheese, I decided to experiment with using it to make a basket shaped tartlet to hold some sweet pears. I’m happy to say this cheese worked perfectly! I love the mild flavor and savory, spiciness of this cheese with the pears. Can’t wait for Thanksgiving!
- 4 oz Montasio cheese
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary + 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 Tbs butter
- 3 ripe pears peeled, cored and chopped
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/4 cup pistachios toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking pan with a Silpat silicone baking mat. Set aside a mini muffin tray.
Shred 2 oz of the cheese in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade. Pour cheese into a bowl and set aside. Change blade to chopping blade and grate remaining 2 oz of cheese. Add 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary and process until cheese and rosemary are finely grated and incorporated. Mix all cheese together and combine well.
Working in batches, 4-6 at a time, place 1 1/2 Tbs cheese mixture in mounds on the Silpat, and lightly press down with the back of a spoon until even thickness, about 2" rounds. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and just starting to turn golden at the edges.
Remove from oven, and let cheese cool for 30 seconds or so, just to set. Working quickly, lay one round of cheese over the muffin tin opening, and gently press in to make a basket/tartlet shape. Repeat with remaining rounds. Let cool, and gently remove cheese tartlets from the muffin tin. Repeat with remaining cheese.
Set aside cheese tartlets to cool.
In a saute pan, melt butter, and add chopped pears, honey, nutmeg and rosemary sprig. Saute until pears are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from heat, and let cool a bit.
Remove rosemary sprig from pears. Spoon 1 tsp of pear mixture into each tartlet.
Sprinkle with a few chopped pistachios.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
When making the cheese tartlets, work in small batches, as the melted cheese will set up quickly. Tartlet shells can be made several hours in advance and kept in an airtight container. Fill with pears just before serving.
Have you started to plan your Thanksgiving menu yet?