Calling all blue cheese lovers!
I feel bad even calling this a recipe, but every once in a while you come across something so simple yet delicious that it would be selfish not to share it with all of you. Like truffle oil and Parmesan cheese on French fries, some flavor combinations should not be ignored. Five ingredients … and completely addictive.
I believe this tartine could be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or even make a light dinner. You may even entertain the idea by serving it in bite size pieces as an elegant appetizer at your next holiday party. It could also be a jumping off point to a quiche or a salad (I’ll elaborate on some of these ideas a little further down).
Let’s get real, tartine is just a fancy way of saying a toasted open-faced sandwich. This is similar to how we use the term crostini to simply say small pieces of toasted bread with toppings. Like the word hors d’oeuvre to really say appetizer (small bites of food that you’re not typically supposed to fill up on before dinner but inevitably do). All 3 of these words lean on the pretentious side, yet we can all agree that tartine sounds so much more appetizing.
This particular "recipe," a term I use lightly, stemmed from a recipe for truffled goat cheese and pear (which is also a brilliant idea, btw). You start with slices of ripe but slightly crisp pear, a drizzle of honey, black truffle oil (or white truffle oil works, too, but I prefer the earthiness of black truffle oil for this particular recipe), and a smattering of crumbled blue cheese topped on freshly toasted bread.
Obviously, there’s a lot of room for your own creativity. If you’re not a big fan of a strong blue cheese, a cambozola or gorgonzola could easily serve as a substitution. Both are milder (and creamier) but provide enough earthiness and tad of sharpness to complement the sweetness of the pear and honey. If you choose to go with a creamier variety, you’ll want to put a thin slice of cheese on first, then layer with pears, honey and then oil. I like to bake mine slightly to melt the cheese before drizzling with honey and oil.
I’d like to address the cost of truffle oil, since it’s worth a mention. Great quality truffle oils are quite expensive. Don’t let that deter you from this recipe or versions of it. There are different grades of truffle oil and the cliché ‘ you get what you pay for’ is true here too. However, finding a mid-grade oil is an affordable option and does the trick nicely. I buy a 50ml bottle from a couple different olive oil specialty shops for about $7. That’s expensive considering you are only getting 50ml, but a little goes a long way. I’ve been using the same bottle for just over a year and I still have a 1/3 of a bottle left. I can’t suggest strongly enough that A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY. Start with just a thin drizzle and add more if need be. Truffle oil carries a strong flavor that can easily overpower even the flavor of blue cheese. Yes … even blue cheese. I’d like to mention that I’ve found if you add it at the very end, it preserves the flavor. It seems that the flavor diminishes during the cooking process, forcing me to use even more to attain the same intensity.
Please experiment if you enjoy this flavor combination as much as I do. It pairs well will spicy salad greens such as Arugula, or with something saltier such as chopped beet greens. You could do something hardier such as cooked barley tossed in a honey mustard vinaigrette and even get a little fussy by adding in fresh tarragon. The next recipe would make for a unique brunch idea. A frittata with baby potatoes and blue cheese would be lovely. A thin layer of sliced pears on top, finished in the oven for 15 minutes, skip the honey and simply drizzle with a black truffle oil.
Pear and Blue Cheese Tartine with Black Truffle Oil
4 slices of your favorite bread
1 ripe pear
blue cheese of choice
honey to drizzle
black truffle oil to drizzle
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, F. if you are choosing to heat and soften the cheese slightly. This is optional. Toast the bread using a toaster or do it in the oven.
2. Place a layer of sliced pear on each slice of toasted bread. Add chucks of crumbled blue cheese on top of the pear slices. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and bake until cheese is starting to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the tartines from the oven and drizzle with honey and black truffle oil. In a snap you could skip the whole oven process but I do find that the flavors seem married better when slightly heated through.
Notes: If you are using creamier styles of milder blue cheese, you may want to put the cheese onto the bread first, melt it in the oven slightly, then proceed to adding the pear slices. Return the cookie sheet to the oven and heat for another 2 minutes. Remove the tartines from the oven and drizzle with the remaining ingredients.
Related post on The Restless Palate: Beet and Walnut Barley Risotto with Bacon and Blue Cheese (or Feta)