Focaccia with Spiced Pears, Pesto, and Brie

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Close up of a slice of focaccia with pears and cheese on top

Does anyone besides me like reading menus? Really reading them…top to bottom? It’s one of my favorite parts of going out to eat. I can’t get enough of the mouth-watering details and descriptions. With real literature, getting your hands on the latest and greatest to hit the marketplace is thrilling, but you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true classics either. I’d argue the same can be said for restaurants and their menu offerings. For example, the quintessential vegetarian venue in Seattle for the last 21 years has been Cafe Flora. Their standard menu is always reliably delicious but on a recent visit, a new dish inspired me to get creative in my own kitchen: Poached Pear and Brie Focaccia.

As part of a special Restaurant Week menu, I got to sample their 3-course lunch for $15. This included a French Green Lentil and Beet Salad, Poached Pear and Brie Focaccia, and a Bramley Apple Crisp. It was all delicious but I was blown away by the Focaccia. Here’s the complete menu description, for your perusing pleasure:

Clara Frij pears poached in spiced red wine with St. Andre triple cream Brie, red onion confit and pistachio pesto on Columbia City Bakery Focaccia with a red wine reduction drizzle and chopped pistachios. 

Top down view of bread, pesto, pears and brie

Could I recreate this at home? I pondered the crunch of the bread, the sweet cinnamon spiciness of the pear, and the buttery melted brie for the 90-minute drive home to Bellingham. Inspiration had struck and I began piecing together how I could recreate it myself. The result? Something a bit reminiscent of a savory and sweet French toast, that can be enjoyed at breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Close up of focaccia on a plate covered in pears and cheese

A warning: this is a time-intensive project, but oh, so worth it. Normally, I’d shy away from a dish that requires three separate recipes to come together just to make one item, but the combination of flavors is spot on and it is so worth it in this case. I experimented with a couple of shortcuts to save time and they just didn’t provide the same results. So, put on some tunes and get ready to spend a few hours building some pear and brie deliciousness.

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Focaccia with Spiced Pears, Pesto and Brie

Close up of focaccia on a plate covered in pears and cheese

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A sweet and savory French toast? Not quite. This cheesy, fruity focaccia with pesto and melt-in-your-mouth onions defies definition.

  • Author: Kristine
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

20 ounces focaccia bread

1 recipe Pistachio Mixed Herb Pesto

1 recipe Onion Confit

1 recipe Spiced Pears and Mulled Wine Syrup

3.5 ounces brie, rind removed and cut or torn into several small pieces

Instructions

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Cut the top crust (about 1/8 inch) off the focaccia. This makes a better surface for the toppings, and in some cases, will remove the salt that’s been sprinkled on the top.

3. Spread the pesto over the bread.

4. Spread the onion confit over the pesto.

5. Place pears face down on top of the onion confit.

6. Sprinkle the pieces of brie over the top.

7. Bake for 10 minutes to warm through.

8. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

9.  Cut focaccia into 8 pieces. Serve each piece drizzled with 1 tablespoon warm mulled wine syrup.

Notes

I’m lucky enough to have a local baker making sourdough focaccia, which is what I used but traditional focaccia works perfectly as well.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 recipe
  • Calories: 440 calories
  • Sugar: 28 g
  • Sodium: 650 mg
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 58 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg

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Pistachio Mixed Herb Pesto

Top down view of jar of pesto

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A fresh, herbaceous take on the classic basil pesto made with pistachios.

  • Author: Kristine
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup 1x

Ingredients

Scale

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley (it’s OK to have a few stems)

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme (it’s not OK to have a few stems)

4 to 6 fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1/3 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, shelled

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

1.  Put all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.

2.  With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated and pesto is thick and spreadable.

Notes

Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe.

Keywords: pesto, pistachio, herbs

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Onion Confit

Top down view of bowl of cooked onions

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These tangy, melt-in-your-mouth onions are worth waiting for.

  • Author: Kristine
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Ingredients

Scale

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 sweet onions, peeled, tough core removed, cut in quarters and sliced thin (about 4 cups)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable broth

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, coat with oil, and reduce heat to medium-low.

2. Season with pepper and salt and break up any big pieces with a wooden spoon.

3. Cook the onions slowly, until soft, about 30 minutes. Your goal is keep them over the heat for a long time without letting them get brown.

4. Stir in the vinegars, broth, and sugar.

5. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Notes

Adapted from Kayotic Kitchen’s recipe.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag @veggirlRD!

Close up of a piece of focaccia topped with cheese and pears

 

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Spiced Pears and Mulled Wine Syrup

Top down view of plate of pears

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Sweet and spicy pears and a complex, gooey wine syrup.

  • Author: Kristine
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 16 pear quarters and 3/4 cup syrup 1x

Ingredients

Scale

1 1/2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cinnamon stick

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

4 ripe but firm red or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and quartered

Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients except pears in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

2. Stir until sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer.

3. Add pears and return to a simmer. Cook gently for 5 to 6 minutes or until pears are tender.

4. Remove pan from the heat and let the pears sit in the poaching liquid for 5 minutes.

5. Remove cinnamon stick and pears and set aside.

6. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until it has been reduced to about 3/4 cup. The syrup will thicken as it cools.

Notes

Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag @veggirlRD!

If you find yourself with some time on your hands, and a hankering for something with complex flavors and textures befitting a classy restaurant, this just might be a tasty new addition to your menu.

 

Have you had success recreating a favorite restaurant recipe at home?

9 thoughts on “Focaccia with Spiced Pears, Pesto, and Brie”

  1. This is why we are friends…I read menus for fun (even restaurants that we are just walking by on the street!) and I just came home the other day and made my best attempt at re-creating a coconut curry lentil soup! This recipe sounds yummy – we’ll have to try it!

  2. Pingback: Pistachio Pesto Pizza - Veg Girl RD

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