Call me old-fashioned, but I love hors d’oeuvres at parties. Not complicated or fancy or difficult-to-eat ones, just little nibbles of things like a beautiful cheese plate, some fresh fruit, or warm bread with aromatic herbs. And when I am hosting, this is my favorite one to serve (and eat!) — it’s a decidedly unfussy but delicious combination of cheese, fruit, warm bread and herbs all in one. I’ve actually tried a few different variations of this — using apples instead of pears, or goat cheese instead of gorgonzola, or a mix of different herbs — but I think the pear-gorgonzola-thyme combination is the ideal trifecta. If you make these for a crowd or your family, don’t be afraid to pile on the softened pears and onions and drizzle all those maple syrup and vinegar juices over the crostini to maximize the crunchy-gooey, sweet-sour, fruity-cheesy goodness. Yum!
Pear, Gorgonzola & Thyme Crostini
(Adapted from Giada de Laurentis’ recipe for Apple & Onion Confit Crostini)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 pears unpeeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- 3 Tbs. maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 French baguette, thinly sliced into 26 (1/4-inch thick) slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 3 ounces creamy gorgonzola cheese sliced into 26 1-inch squares (less than 1/4-inch thick)
To make the pear confit: In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onions, pear slices, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, maple syrup, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and pears are soft, an additional 15 minutes or so.
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Arrange the bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Brush both sides with oil and bake until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes (turn halfway to ensure even browning). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the gorgonzola squares on top of the warm toasts; once the cheese melts a bit, spread it over the tops of the crostini. Spoon the pear confit on top of the cheese, making sure to drizzle all the juices over the crostini. Sprinkle with more chopped thyme and serve.