I'm trying so hard to stay away (mostly) from desserts these days while I try to lose some weight going into the holidays. And while I'm not sure this dish is less calories in the final analysis, it made me feel just a little less guilty. And sometimes, that's enough for me.
Pears, figs and Belgian Endive (California grown) are all tossed in a pear vinaigrette and then grilled until the pears just begin to give off a great caramelized flavor that marries really well with the crunch and flavor of the Endive. But if your grill is 6 feet under (snow) when you want to make this, it also works just fine on top of the stove. I recommend a grill pan, but a simple saute pan will work as well. With either type of pan, lightly oil the surface of the pan with a paper towel so that the fruit doesn't stick and heat it up before putting the fruit on it for a nice sear.
For the cheese, I felt that blue cheese on its own overpowered the dish, and so I tried mixing it with goat cheese and ricotta cheese to get a nice flavor that's a little more complex but still sings out a clear blue cheese note. I used store-bought Na'an to save time, but it will be even better if you make your own flatbread for it!
I served it at a recent wine tasting party and it was a hit. I hope you enjoy it too! —TheWimpyVegetarian
30 bite-sized appetizers
tablespoon olive oil, divided
cup finely chopped yellow onions
pears (I used French Pears, but Bosc and Bartlett are fine here too!)
heads of Belgian style endive (I used white, but if you can find red tinted endive that would be beautiful)
whole figs (I used Kadota as they can be a little sweeter, but any fresh figs will work here)
tablespoons any kind of Pear Vinegar (cider vinegar can be substituted)
tablespoons EACH of ricotta cheese, chevre, and blue cheese - all at room temperature
tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (if they're young and not woody, you can include the stems)
Heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small saute pan and add the onions. Saute on medium-low until nice and soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Slice the pears, with the skin on, into wedges about 1/4" thick. Remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. Slice the Belgian Endive in half, lengthwise, and place on the baking sheet. Slice the figs in thirds, lengthwise, and place on the baking sheet. Combine the last tablespoon of olive oil with the Pear Vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper and swish around. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the fruit and endive and gently, gently rub it over everything for good coverage.
Heat up the grill (or follow the stove top recommendations in the headnote) and place a vegetable grilling sheet on the grill. Let it heat up for 5 minutes. Place the Endive on the grill, cut side facing down, and the fruit on the vegetable grilling sheet. (Without the grilling sheet, the pears and figs will just droop through the grate and fall into the fire.) Grill the Endive until it begins to turn brown and begins to soften a bit, turning it as needed (about 7-10 minutes over direct heat). Grill the fruit until the pears begin to brown and slightly caramelize and the figs soften and become slightly juicy. Remove everything from the grill back to the baking sheet you started with.
Heat the oven to 400F. While it's heating up, mix together the cheeses, fresh thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl with a fork.
Assemble the flatbreads: spread most of the cheese mixture onto the Na'an, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind. Sprinkle on the sauteed onions and layer the pears, endive and figs on top. If desired, dot little bits of the cheese mixture on top and bake until the cheese melts a bit - about 20 - 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and slice up into bite-sized pieces. This can be served at room temperature, but is oh so much better warm.