Vinny’s blogged about pears, leeks, and goat cheese before. But here they team up to give you something a bit different. Sweet and savory meld to make an unusual main course for lunch or a spectacular beginning to a fancy dinner. And except for the chopping, it’s easy!
Using the top half of a pear with its stem as the centerpiece reminds me of the nursery rhyme, “Four and twenty blackbirds.” Putting the whole animal into pies was once thought exotic: food for kings, in fact.
I doubt the birds ever began to sing, once taken out of a hot oven. But I can see how birds may have made their way into a song. Once in an English pub I was served a pigeon pie that had one long red foot sticking from its center, toes and all. I must admit that was too much even for my adventurous palate.
No worries like that with this pear pie. Vegetarians can enjoy it without a care that some blackbird will snip off their nose!
Pear and leek bake
- 1 leek, green tops discarded and whites washed well and sliced
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 or 4 small pears, washed
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup goat cheese
- 1/2 cup cream fraiche plus 1/2 cup milk (or replace these two ingredients with 1 cup whipping cream)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- a little salt and pepper, to taste
- cinnamon to garnish
- Oil an oven-proof baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Fry the sliced leeks on medium heat in coconut oil until limp. Remove from heat.
- Slice the top one-third off one of the pears and set aside. Core the bottom two thirds and slice in thin wedges.
- Core and slice the remaining pears.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
- In the centre of your baking dish, arrange four or five pear slices to make a platform for the pear top to sit on.
- Arrange the fried leeks around the pear.
- Pour the egg mixture on the leeks.
- Arrange the pear slices in a circle around the center pear, overlapping if needed.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake for 35 or 40 minutes or until the mixture holds its shape in the center when shaken and a knife comes out clean.
- Remove and cool for a few minutes.
- Slice and serve with a salad or a whole-grain bun.
I used Rocha pears from Portugal that are abundant these days at our produce market. I bought a whole basket of these small, firm, juicy, sweet beauties at a great price and began to wonder how to use them up before they went bad. Pear and leek bake was the answer. If you see these at your grocery, I strongly recommend them.
We hardly ever have creme fraiche, but it was available over Christmas. We enjoyed it on scones and banana bread, but I needed another way to use up the leftovers. Pear and leek bake to the rescue, once again!
My pie took 40 minutes to bake, and it might even have benefited from another 5 minutes in the oven.
After checking my previous leek posts, I see there’s more to tell you about these amazing vegetables. Leeks are cousins with the healthy Garlic and Onion boys. So leeks give many of the same health benefits, fighting cancer and promoting heart health. But they have some special qualities of their own.
They’re effective diuretics, laxatives, and antiseptics. They contain kaempferol, which supports the heart and blood supply system, and quercetin, which inhibits carcinogenic synthesis in the body. They also are a good source of folate, an essential vitamin, and especially important for pregnant women.
Don’t be stingy with them. In general, aim for a cup of thinly sliced leeks (the white part, mainly) per person.
Many people are unfamiliar with leeks. Cut them very thinly and sauté them for best nutrition. Like onions and garlic, leeks should sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their nutrition. Kids may prefer leeks over onions and garlic because of the milder taste. Try them!