The recipes of Chef Yotam Ottolenghi came to my attention via the Quinoa, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad and it is safe to say that I am now obsessed.
Yotam Ottolenghi cooks how I want to eat … every single day. Sumptuous … layered … and healthy with surprising flavor profiles that create a party in your mouth – his recipes are brilliant. Last night, I made his Pear Crostini from the cookbook Plenty – (see review under Amuse-Bouche) – and it was outstanding – so good in fact, I am making it again TODAY! The only adaptation that I made to the recipe was to add Fennel with the pear since we are also fennel obsessed here in The Hungry Goddess Kitchen and fennel and pear play very nicely together.
The Fennel and Pear Crostini made a delightful appetizer for a birthday dinner and received wide-eyed accolades from all the guests. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer, snack – wherever you want to fit this dish – just make it. Then report back. I guarantee that you will be Obsessed with Ottolenghi as well.
The goat cheese that I used was from Whole Foods and purchased on recommendation from the savvy young man in the Cheese section. His suggestion was Capricho de Cabra from Spain – it is a young goat cheese that is soft and crumbled beautifully. The flavor was creamy and mellow, so versatile. I will use this goat cheese again and again and it will be an addition to an upcoming roasted beet and Meyer lemon salad!
I would love to hear reports back if you make this or if you too are obsessed with Ottolenghi. I am putting together a pilgrimage now to go to London and eat with him.
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 4 large slices sourdough bread, cut 1.5 inches thick
- 3 semi-ripe pears (unpeeled)
- ½ Fennel Bulb sliced thinly
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 – 5 oz good-quality goat’s cheese
- picked chervil to garnish (I used regular chervil sprinkled)
- salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Place the pine nuts, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and work to a coarse and wet paste.
- Use a brush to apply to one side of every sourdough slice.
- Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
- While the bread is in the oven, prepare the pears.
- Stand each pear on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to trim off a very thin layer of the skin from each side.
- Then cut each pear lengthways into four thick slices. (HG Note: I did them a bit thinner since I was adding the fennel)
- Remove the core with the tip of a knife.
- Place the slices in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Toss gently.
- Take a ridged griddle pan and place on a high heat until piping hot.
- Lay the pear slices gently in the pan and leave for about a minute on each side, just to make char marks.
- Turn carefully and then remove with tongs, trying not to break the pears.
- Cut top off fennel and then stand the fennel bulb on the cutting board. Begin slicing thin layers and use sharp knife remove heavy core. Place the fennel slices in the same mixture as the pears and repeat process in the ridged pan.
- Lay the fennel slices in the grill pan for approx 2 minutes per side.
- To assemble the crostini, lay the pears and fennel on the toast and then slice the cheese thinly or crumble and arrange over the pears and fennel. Place the crostini in the oven for 3–4 minutes under the grill, just to warm up and for the cheese to partly melt. Remove from the oven.
- Garnish the crostini with the picked chervil leaves, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot or warm.