~ Pear, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Walnuts, Levain ~
Who knew leftovers could taste so good? Day old country-style bread studded with cranberries and walnuts, a chunk of Point Reyes Blue cheese and miniature red pears were remnants of a cheese board I made over the weekend. Day old bread, as un-sexy as that may sound, is a kitchen workhorse – resurrected as toast, crostini, breadcrumbs; folded into puddings and dressings, or swathed in egg and pan-fried. I kept it simple. I topped lightly toasted bread with slices of the blue cheese and pear (culinary best friends), and freshened the pile with a few wisps of arugula and a brush of lemon. What were last weekend’s cheese board stars and today’s less-than-fresh bread made a comeback in this delicious appetizer.
Pear, Blue Cheese and Arugula Bruschetta
If you don’t have a fruit and nut bread, use a country style or levain bread and top the bruschetta with coarsely chopped walnuts. Makes 4.
2 – (1/4 inch thick) slices of walnut or levain bread, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces blue cheese such as Point Reyes or Gorgonzola
1/2 cup arugula
2 small red pears, halved, cored, sliced thin
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven broiler. Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Broil until lightly golden on both sides, 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Arrange a layer of thinly sliced blue cheese over the bread. Cover the cheese with a few sprigs of arugula. Fan one half of a pear over the arugula. Brush the pear with lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Organic California peaches are now available in our market, and I am very excited. When I see peaches it means that summer is just around the corner. Hard to believe, I know, but in a few weeks school will be out, and the summer holiday will stretch ahead with unstructured time, travel, camps and sunny activities.
For now, I will focus on the peaches. This recipe combines fragrant peaches with crumbly blue cheese, a drizzle of honey and thyme. The flavors play off and elevate each other in wonderful harmony. For extra freshness and crunch, arugula may be added as a bed for the peaches. It’s all good.
Peach and Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Honey and Thyme
4 slices country-style bread, cut 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 ripe, but not too soft, peaches, halved and pitted
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking pan with a rack. Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Broil, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Remove and transfer slices to a plate or platter.
Thinly slice peach halves. Arrange on bread, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle blue cheese over the peaches. Drizzle with honey and garnish with thyme sprigs.
This autumnal salad is insired by the fall palette on display at Sundays Farmer’s Market.
Figs and Greens with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, oak leaf, mâche
1 cup purple basil leaves
One medium fennel bulb with fronds, tips and end removed, thinly sliced
6 purple figs, quartered
1/2 cup halved walnuts
6 oz. (175 g.) blue cheese such as Roquefort or Forme d’Ambert, cut in 1″ pieces
Whisk red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil in steady stream to emulsify.
Combine greens, basil and fennel in a large bowl. Pour half the vinaigrette over, tossing with hands to combine well. Arrange greens on serving plates. Top with figs, walnuts and blue cheese. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste. Serve with baguette or pain paysan.