I never tire of making crostata's and galettes (as is obvious on this blog). I love that they can be sweet or savory, or walk the line between sweet or savory. I also love that the pastry is simple, with very little wait time. And most importantly, it's a great way to use up some extra ripe fruit.
This pear and goat cheese crostata walks the line between sweet and savory. It's great as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee (or glass of wine!), or sliced into small wedges as an appetizer at a dinner party. It could also be a dessert, if you're into serving something not too sweet. Also, add more sugar, it will be sweeter. Take away the goat cheese, it will be less savory. The rosemary adds such a nice hit of green and aromatic flavor with or without cheese. If you don't have rosemary, try something else: thyme, black pepper, tarragon, or maybe even marjoram.
If you don't have a food processor, you can even make the crostata dough by hand (and it's arguably better that way). A food processor helps if you're nervous about mixing it all up evenly and well. Also, good butter helps. This is a good place to splurge on a nicer brand as there really aren't too many ingredients in this pastry. For flour, I prefer King Arthur brand, for its high protein content, but any kind will do. And if you don't want dairy, you could use a quality vegan margarine (like Earth Balance) in the dough; it will make the pastry a little saltier (so omit any additional salt), and it's not quite as great as butter, but it 100% works.
And lastly, the pears. You want good pears. I like them in this dish when they're really ripe. Even a little bruised is ok. If they're too hard the tart doesn't bake as evenly. You use Bosc, Anjou, or whatever you can get your hands on that's good at the market. You don't need to peel them, and they add such a nice pop of color.
Pear, Rosemary and Goat Cheese Crostata
For the pastry-
- 1¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
- turbinado or raw sugar, for sprinkling
For the filling-
2 pears (about 1 lbs / 450 grams), ripe but still firm, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey, plus more for garnish (local honey)
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 4 oz. fresh goat cheese
To a food processor, add the flour sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to combine the mixture. Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients, pulse until pea-sized pieces of dough are formed. Alternatively, you can use your hands or a pastry cutter to combine the dry ingredients with the butter.
To the dough, add the apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Pulse until the dough comes together into a ball but is not too wet. It should stick together between your fingers when squeezed. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
While your dough is chilling, prepare the fruit and cheese. To a bowl, add the sliced pear, sugar, honey, rosemary, and lemon juice.
Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C)
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. The dough should roll out to about 12-13 inches in diameter, or about ½ an inch thick. The edges do not have to be perfect. Leaving a 1.5-2 inch border, pile the sliced pears into the middle of the crust. Dollop the goat cheese over the top of the pears. Fold the edges of dough over the pears.
Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle the Turbinado or raw sugar over the brushed dough. Transfer the crostata with the parchment paper onto a baking sheet.
Bake the crostata for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the pears are tender. If the crust starts to brown too much before the pears are cooked, cover the the exposed crust with foil. Drizzle a little honey over the hot crostata. Slice and serve warm or room temp.