I thought it would be fun to host a cookbook review on It’s a Keeper (IAK). Some of my readers and Facebook/Twitter follwers who wanted to participate don’t have blogs of their own to share their recipes on, so I offered up a guest post on IAK to give all of my readers the opportunity to share their reviews. This one is from my good friend, Natalie.
When looking for recipe or two to review for the It’s A Keeper Cookbook Review, I came across Ina Garten’s Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese. One of my very favorite salads, especially in the fall when the pears and apples are at their peak, is one with pears, walnuts and cranberries, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.
3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
3 ounces coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese such as Stilton
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
½ cup apple cider
3 tablespoons port
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup good olive oil
6 ounces baby arugula
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small, sharp paring knife and a melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.
Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.
In the same bowl, combine the apple cider, port and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.
Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Add the arugula and toss well. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve.
Is it a Keeper?
First, I will own up to my “cheats”. I used store bought lemon juice rather than fresh-squeezed. I also used Splenda Brown Sugar Blend instead of regular brown sugar. Finally, we just ate the stuffed pears by themselves as my grocery store didn’t have arugula.
Was it a Keeper? You bet it was! I will definitely make this again. This dish would be the perfect impressive yet not at all difficult first course for a Fall dinner. The pears are cooked and tender, but still had a bit of a bite to them, while the blue cheese was creamy and the walnuts gave it a nice crunch. The salty blue cheese combined with the sweetness of just about everything else made for a great variation in flavor.
When we’re having dinner guests, I always look for recipes that can be prepared ahead of time and this is perfect for that. The pears should be served room temperature, so you can do them and mix the vinaigrette for the arugula in advance and then just assemble it at the last minute. Thanks, Ina for this delicious recipe. It is most definitely a Keeper! And thanks to Christina for inviting all of us to review some of her favorite cookbooks.
Natalie is from northeastern Pennsylvania, and is an amazing working mom. In addition to being a super-mom and a great cook, she also runs a successful construction business and donates countless hours to helping area non-profits. She is a regular, loyal reader and commenter here on It’s a Keeper. Please give her some Comment Love!
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