Caramelized Onion and Pear Tart is a perfect New Year’s finger food! Sweet, caramelized onions, pears, and truffle goat cheese come together in puff pastry for a delicious appetizer.
I love pears. There’s no hiding that. I have several pear recipes on my blog. They’re tops on my list of fave fruits. It’s mangos, pears, peaches, and everything else. Maybe watermelon comes a solid 4th. But the rest of the fruits are a toss up depending on the season.
And for whatever reason, pears and puff pastry always go together in my head. I have a couple of recipes with pears and puff pastry on there. I think the palmier are the most popular. But I love the grilled cheese. It’s sweet and salty and totally delicious!
Where do pears come from?
According to USA Pears, they’re “one of the world’s oldest cultivated and beloved fruits.” Some evidence of pears can be found as far back as prehistoric times especially in pile dwellings in Lake Zurich. Fast forward to 2000 BC in China. A Chinese diplomat, consumed with grafting fruit and nut trees for commercial purposes, started cultivating pears.
And, of course, anything that was in China made its way to Rome/Greece and beyond. Pears are versatile and have a long storage life. Because of this, they became highly prized as a commodity on the trade routes. This expanded the stamps on their passport to many European countries and beyond. They came across the pond with the settlers in the 1700’s but those were susceptible to blight.
However, it was the pioneers that brought the pear to Pacific Northwest that created the booming business of pear cultivation in the US. The agricultural conditions in that area are best for growing the sweetest and most delicious pears. Of which, the US has 10 varieties out of the thousands that are throughout the world.
What varieties of pear does the United States grow?
There are 10 varieties that thrive in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The most common are the green and red Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, and Concorde. At least that’s what I see in my grocery store. Sometimes I see the red Barlett and Seckel pears. But I don’t think I’ve seen the Comice, Forelle, and the Starkrimson.
Like apples, they range in sweetness and texture. Some, like the Bosc, Concorde, and Forelle are firmer and greater for baking. I used green Anjou pears in these tarts. They were soft and juicy with a nice, sweet flavor. They pair well with the caramelized onions. And complement the rich, aged truffle goat cheese.
Are pears good for you?
Um… YEAH! A medium-sized pear is about 100 calories. In those calories you get about 21% of your RDA of fiber, 8% vitamin C, and 4% potassium. Pears have one of the highest fiber contents of fruits. And we all know high fiber means we feel full longer. Which means we don’t eat as much. It also helps with spikes in sugar because dietary fiber slows digestion which slows the absorption of sugars.
Do not peel your pears! There’s a slew of phytonutrients in there! There’s polyphenol which is an antioxidant and terpenoids which helps with inflammation. There is vitamin C that fends off those free radicals floating around that could cause cancer. So, as you can see, there are many reasons why pears are good for you.
How do I know if my pears are ripe?
Check the neck! The stem end of the pear should have a slight give when pressed with your thumb. This indicates that they are ripe and ready to eat or use in cooking. You can’t really tell by color because some pear varieties don’t really change color much. It’s not like a banana or other fruit that changes color when it’s ripe.
While it may seem like tried-and-true method for most fruit, I wouldn’t put them in a brown paper bag to ripen. While it might speed up the softness of the flesh, it will not ensure that your pears are sweet.
How do you ripen pears?
Leave them on the counter. Make sure to check them once a day. If you want to aid the ripening process, put them with other fruits that give off ethylene. Bananas are great for this. And it shouldn’t make them any less sweet than letting them sit by themselves in a bowl on the counter.
Do not microwave them! This doesn’t ripen the fruit. It only makes the flesh softer. I think this started with the avocado. But that doesn’t ripen the fruit either. It only makes the flesh soft; like cooking it. The best thing to do is give them time on the counter. Then once the neck is soft, put them in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.
Why do pears turn brown?
This is simple oxidation. It’s called enzymic browning. Yes. That’s a technical term for things turning brown. Here’s the geeky science behind it. Phenols and phenolase are in the cells of fruit. When these become exposed to oxygen after cutting into them this causes a chemical reaction. The phenolase turns the phenols into melanin which is inherently brown in color.
To prevent this from happening, or more like slowing it down, you can put a little lemon juice on the fruit. Of course, that might affect the sweet flavor of the pears. So, use sparingly. Since the brown color doesn’t really affect the flavor, I don’t mind it. It’s nature doing its thing.
What does caramelized onion and pear tart taste like?
I love pears with puff pastry. Heck, I just love puff pastry. It’s so flaky and buttery delicious. It’s delicate enough to highlight the sweetness of ripe pears. So, it only made sense that I made this pear tart with puff pastry. And I scored the edges to keep the pears, onions, and cheese in the middle and allow the puff pastry to puff up around the edges.
I used a truffle laced aged goat cheese in this pear tart recipe. It was at my Harris Teeter. I think it’s a Boars Head cheese so you might be able to find it where they sell their meats and cheeses. If you can’t find that, pears with Stilton are always a good combination. The sharp Stilton compliments the sweetness of the pears and onions.
The caramelized onions play off the sweetness of the pears. But it also plays off the richness of the cheese. The balsamic vinegar brings a brightness to all the flavors. It’s a perfect appetizer for the holidays or New Year’s.
It is an easy pear tart with fresh pears that are in season right now. And you can make the onions ahead of time. Once those are ready, this comes together in minutes. Then you pop it into the oven until the puff pastry is golden brown and crispy. Your guests will love this pear tart with fresh pears!
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 sheet thawed puff pastry
- 1 cup thinly sliced pears
- 1/2 cup shredded aged truffle goat cheese
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Melt the butter in the pan and add the onions.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep the onions from drying out.
- When the onions are golden brown, stir in the balsamic vinegar.
- Simmer 1 to 2 minutes until evaporated.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Cut the sheet of puff pastry in half.
- Score the puff pastry about 1/2 inch from the edge.
- Place a layer of cheese inside of the scored edge.
- Spread the onions on top of the cheese.
- Layer the pears on top of the onions.
- Top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
- Cool slightly before slicing into 3 pieces and serving.
Nutrition InformationYield 3 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 423Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 45mgSodium 160mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 4gSugar 26gProtein 7g
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