We owe some credit to Ina Garten for this, since we've made her apple crostata so many times that we said, "Not again." We had to come up with our own version. Pears seemed like a natural, not too risky, departure, but then we thought of how good they taste with cheese.
There is just enough blue cheese in here to give you a little tang every other bite or so, but you could certainly add more. The brown sugar topping is essential, in our opinion—it keeps the crostata firmly in dessert land and balances nicely with the cheese. And we added hazelnuts to it, just because we had some, but walnuts might be even better.
The crust is Ina's. We can't improve on it. But there's a link, below.
For the crust:
Ina Garten's Apple Crostata Pastry (you'll use half)
For the crostata:
4 small to medium ripe pears
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Core and cut the pears into small, 1/2-inch chunks. Set aside in a bowl.
Roll out your crust onto a well-floured countertop until you have a rough, 10- to 12-inch circle. Transfer it to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Pour the pears into the middle of the crust, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch border around the edge. Scatter the blue cheese evenly over the top, tucking some pieces under and in between chunks of pear.
Combine the flour, sugar, and nuts in a bowl, then add the butter. Pinch the mixture together with your fingers until the dry ingredients are somewhat pebbly and combined with the butter enough that most pinches hold together.
Pour the topping over the pears. Fold the edges of the crust toward the center, folding it as necessary to create a circle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with honey, if desired, before serving.
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)