Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese TartNew Year’s Nosh
It happened. I actually uttered the words I am tired of food the other day and my family was right there with me. After indulging in nothing but the good stuff for 36 hours we were ready to not eat. We were all very excited about the salad I made for dinner last night. But now we’re staring New Year’s in the face. What to do?

I think the best course of action is to go small and snacky. A few finger foods that are easy and perfect for grazing without being a whole big meal. Maybe a charcuterie platter which seems to be all the rage right now. Or potentially a few hot bites like these Cashel Blue, Spinach, and Smoked Salmon Tartlets or the Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart below. The dough makes for a great bite but I have done it with pre-made puff pastry and had great results. It also works well with apples if you are so inclined.

No matter what your New Year’s celebration will look like, here’s hoping you have a safe, healthy and happy New Year!!!

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking Section
Yields 12 servings

This sweet and savory pear tart is sophisticated enough for holiday celebrations. The topping is a comforting, mellow jumble of sweet roasted pears and shallots perfumed with thyme and pungent blue cheese.

If you want to simplify this recipe, purchase some good-quality puff pastry (like Dufour’s in our freezer) and substitute it for making your own dough.

For the crust
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
2-1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

For the topping
2-1/4 pounds pears or apples, cored, quartered, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3/4 pound shallots, peeled, trimmed, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
5 thyme branches
3/4 cup finely crumbled blue cheese
Flaky sea salt

Proof the yeast
Place 3/4 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water. Let stand until frothy (about 5 minutes).

Make the crust
In another large bowl, whisk together both flours, cornmeal, and 1-3/4 teaspoons of salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients; stir in yeast mixture and 1/3 cup of the olive oil until mixture is combined. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water.

Knead the dough
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough is smooth and elastic, (about 7 to 10 minutes). Or, knead in a mixer or food processor fit with the dough blade for 3 to 5 minutes.

Allow the dough to rise
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it loosely with a damp dishtowel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it has doubled in volume (about 1 hour).

Roast the toppings
While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 425º F. In a large bowl, toss together the pears (or apples), shallots, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the black pepper, and thyme. Spread the mixture onto two large baking sheets. Roast, tossing occasionally until the mixture is tender and golden (about 30 minutes).

Increase the oven temperature to 450º F. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet.

Assemble the tart
Punch down the dough and transfer it to the baking sheet. Using a rolling pin or your fingers, roll or stretch the dough to make an even layer that is about 3/16-inch thick.

Scatter the pear-shallot mixture over the crust and scatter the cheese on top. Drizzle the tart with oil and season with flaky sea salt and black pepper.

Bake the tart
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is just melted (about 17 to 25 minutes).

To serve
Cool the tart slightly then cut into squares and serve.

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