When it comes to cooking, I seem to have a split personality. Sometimes the overly-ambitious, make-everything-from-scratch Chelsey shows up in the kitchen, flushed with thoughts of freshly boiled bagels or homemade strawberry preserves. She asks for ice cream makers and pasta machines for her birthday and doesn’t question spending $15 on a literal pinch of saffron. She gets up early for the farmers market and plans her weekly menu on lovely stationery, glowing with good intentions and Saturday morning optimism.
Then there’s the other Chelsey. She finds herself standing in the wake of a Martha Stewart wannabe, surrounded by mountains of kale, half-thawed pork chops, and zero desire to get off the couch. She curses that over-achiever for never buying frozen pizzas or Kraft mac & cheese like a normal person. Because kneading pizza dough or making a roux is exactly what she feels like doing with her Wednesday night. (Jason, in case you were wondering, would prefer that lazy Chelsey did the shopping.)
This crostini caters to both versions of myself. The domestic diva gets some bizarre project to cross off her cooking bucket list; the couch potato needs only to stand upright long enough to assemble the crostini and pour a glass of Chardonnay. It’s a great starter for an elaborate meal, ensuring you don’t get kitchen burnout by dessert. It also makes a good lunch on days when you don’t feel like making lunch. Not that we speak from experience or anything.
Pear & Ricotta Crostini with Honey and Hazelnuts | Serves 4
- 8 thin slices of crusty bread
- 1-2 pears
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese (recipe follows, if you’re feeling ambitious)
- 2-3 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
First, prepare the toast. Preheat your oven to the broil setting. Place slices of bread on a large baking sheet and toast 1-3 minutes on each side, until barely golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Next, toast the hazelnuts in a small frying pan over medium heat. Toss frequently until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Core the pears and thinly slice them, leaving the skins on. Toss with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. (You can skip this step if you’re serving the crostini immediately.)
Finally, assemble the crostini by spreading some ricotta on each slice of toast. Place 2-3 pear slices on top and transfer to serving plate. Drizzle with honey and top with toasted hazelnuts.
Homemade Ricotta | Yields 1 cup
My ricotta recipe comes from Julia of Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body, who reported ricotta success using only 1% milk. The consistency was on par with the grocery store tub, but I could definitely taste hints of lemon in the homemade version. (It was great on the crostini, however!) Julia posted wonderful pictures and more thorough instructions in her recipe, so I highly encourage you to visit her site before jumping in.
- 5 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Special equipment: cheesecloth and instant-read thermometer
Heat milk and salt in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly to prevent scalding. When milk reaches 190°, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir briefly to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes, allowing the curds to form. Drain ricotta by pouring through a cheesecloth secured over a large bowl. Drain two hours, then refrigerate.