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Gorgonzola and Hazelnut Stuffed Pears with Pancetta Crisps and Mâche


Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 108

In this delicious salad, the salty, buttery flavor of Gorgonzola dolce (a mild, slightly aged, spreadable type of Gorgonzola) mingles with the sweet, juicy pears. Slices of pancetta, baked until crisp, add texture and another savory note.

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. mild honey, such as clover
  • 2 medium firm-ripe red pears (preferably red Anjou), halved lengthwise and cored
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 thin slices pancetta (about 2-1/2 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 oz. Gorgonzola dolce (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz. mâche (about 4 cups)

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, mix the melted butter and 1 tsp. of the honey. Brush the mixture over the cut sides of the pears and season with salt. Arrange the pears cut sides up on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the upper rack until just tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange the pancetta on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the lower rack until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the hazelnuts, the Gorgonzola dolce, thyme, and the remaining 1 tsp. honey with the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove the pears from the oven and divide the cheese filling evenly among the pear cavities. Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts and bake on the upper rack until the cheese starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Turn the broiler on high and broil until the nuts brown slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil. Toss the mâche with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and divide among 4 plates. Top each salad with 2 pancetta rounds and 1 pear half. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360, Fat (kcal): 28, Fat Calories (g): 250, Saturated Fat (g): 8, Protein (g): 8, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16, Carbohydrates (mg): 20, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 590, Cholesterol (g): 35, Fiber (g): 4,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Perfect alternative to the 'regular salad' routine. Gets raves - people always ask for recipe. I do a bibb or boston lettuce - just more of what I like - and walnuts. Once I used a high quality bottled dressing - just as good and less work. Also, so much of this can be done ahead so it makes an easy first course to assemble. Impressive and yummy.

Wow. Beautiful, simple, and great flavors. I served at a dinner party as the starter and it was a huge hit! Definitely a keeper.

I have made this twice now. It's beautiful and delicious. Enough to make you swoon. Also fairly quick, easy, and inexpensive. The pancetta was a nice addition. I always cook my bacon in the oven, but now will substitute thin pancetta slices for special occasions. I used baby spinach when I couldn't find mache. This is a real keeper.

I made this recipe for Christmas Eve dinner this year. It was the last course before dessert,as the French do it, salad last not first. It was unreal and my guests loved it. A real success. I had to make a few changes as well. Could not find mache so I used an organic Bibb lettuce. I also could not find Champagne vinegar in the two stores where I looked so I used a white wine vinegar. I will definitely find that champagne vinegar and make sure it is a staple in my pantry.

This recipe elicited moans from those around the table. I too made a few mods. I roasted the pears until they were soft, stuffed them with just the gorgonzola/honey mix and served it on top of a baby arugula mix. The spicy arugula balanced the sweet pear perfectly. Then I sprinkled the salad with chopped, toasted hazlenuts and diced pancetta. Yum! I don't make many dishes more than once, but I will this one.

Absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and do think the tartness of the dressing nicely balanced the pear, which was itself not too sweet with the addition of fresh thyme.

Very yum and I'd definitely make it again. But I did make a few changes: I had to use regular baby greens because I couldn't find the mache. And since I really don't like Gorgonzola, I subbed Camembert. (If you sub the Camembert, watch carefully during the broil/oven stage) I used a mixture of hazelnuts and pecans. It was lovely. The honey was a nice touch. I might add a touch to the dressing next time for a hint of sweetness.

Delicious! I didn't have hazelnuts so I substituted walnuts and in the interest of time just tossed my greens with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. I will definitely serve this again as a first course for a dinner party, or a light supper for family.

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