Pear Salad with Arugula, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola

pear salad To me summer is all about the salads, and do I have a good one to share with you today! It’s a combination of salty prosciutto, peppery arugula, creamy gorgonzola and sliced sweet pears, need I say more?

Abate pears The other day I discovered a new variety of pears called Abate ,( pronounced ah-BAH-tay) they have a unique shape, more oblong, taller and slimmer than the typical pears we’re use to. They originated in Italy and are said to be among the best in the world. I need to go back and get more before they disappear because I absolutely loved them.

They were perfect for this salad, not only were they sweet and juicy but they kept a nice firm shape when sliced. Of course any variety of pear will do for this salad, just make sure it’s not too overly ripe.

If you happen to come across some Abate pears, please give them a try!

pear salad I love salads that I can make or bring to a party, ones that I can arrange on a large platter with a pretty presentation, and this is one of them.

pear salad It looks pretty and it tastes even better, the flavor combination is out of this world good!

There’s no real recipe, just spread some arugula all over a platter, slice up some pears that have been cut in half lengthwise, cored and sliced. Arrange the pears all around, tuck in slices of prosciutto then crumble gorgonzola all over the top along with some toasted walnuts, that’s it!

Dress it right before serving, I used white balsamic and olive oil, a fifty fifty mix, just whisk it up add some salt and pepper and drizzle over the top, so delicious!

pear saladpear and prosciutto rolls

I call the above picture an Italian summer roll, something I saw Rachael Ray do but she didn’t add the gorgonzola. So using all the same flavors that were in the salad I made a roll out of it, here’s how:

Lay out a slice of proscuitto, add a small handful of arugula, one pear slice and a small chunk of gorgonzola then just roll it up, everything will stay together perfectly and it’s so easy to pick up and eat!

Either one of these would be great for Father’s Day this weekend, graduations or any of your upcoming summertime parties.

Want to see what else I’m cooking up during the week? You can follow me here on Instagram.


Ricotta Filled Baked Pears

ricotta stuffed pearsI love making desserts using ricotta so when I first saw this recipe in the cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts, I knew I was going to make it!

Crushed amaretti cookies, almond paste, candied orange peel, some of the pear that is scooped from the centers, cinnamon and vanilla all mixed into creamy ricotta then stuffed into a pear and baked, what’s not to like?
Southern Italian Dessert cookbook I received this book for review written by Rosetta Costantino she’s also the author of the acclaimed, My Calabria. I was instantly drawn in by the cover photo which was a beautiful watermelon pudding tart, I’ve never seen anything like it. When summer returns to Chicago and watermelon is back in season I’m definitely going to make that!

All the mouthwatering desserts in the book are organized by region, you’ll find Sicilian Cannoli, Zeppole di San Giuseppe which are fried pastries, Sfogliatelle Ricce, a flaky pastry stuffed with ricotta, Zabaione al Limoncello, Biscotti and various other Italian cakes, pies, cookies and candies and gelato. No doubt I will be referring back to this book quite often.

almond paste and ricotta fillingFor the stuffed pears I needed almond paste which I didn’t have, no worries she tells you how to make it in the book along with many other tips. It was actually quite simple to make, blanched almonds, sugar, water and a little almond extract whirled until it forms a paste in the food processor.
hollowed out pears The key is to find firm but ripe fat bottomed pears so you’ll have plenty of room to stuff them with the ricotta mixture.

baked pearsAs the pears are baking the ricotta mixture puffs up inside and over the top. The recipe gives you the option to then eat it as is, or to drizzle the pears with a chocolate sauce.
chocolate coated baked pears Obviously I went with the chocolate!chocolate coated pearsricotta stuffed pear One word…. DECADENT!


Ricotta Filled Baked Pears and a Giveaway
  • 6 firm-ripe pears
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta, well drained
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup crushed amaretti cookies
  • 5 tablespoons of almond paste, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 tablespoons packed finely chopped candied orange peel
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of vermouth or sweet white wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of pure almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus 1 teaspoon if needed.
  1. Heat oven to 400F, rack in center oven. Have a 8-inch square pan ready.
  2. Cut off the tops of each pear and set aside. Use a melon baller or a small spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a ¼ inch all around careful not to poke through bottom. Discard seeds, chop flesh and set aside.
  3. Place ricotta into a bowl. Stir in egg, amaretti, almond paste, orange peel,cinnamon and vanilla. Add chopped pears and stir to combine everything.
  4. Place pears into baking pan, fill the cavities with the ricotta filling. Replace the tops on the pears.
  5. Stir together the wine, sugar and water then pour mixture into the pan. Bake until soft and beginning to collapse, mine took a little over an hour. Filling will puff out and brown. spoon some of the sauce over the pears.
  6. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold or overnight.
  7. Serve the chilled pears in shallow bowls, drizzled with chocolate sauce if you so desire.
  8. CHOCOLATE SAUCE is made my heating the cream until the sides start to bubble, turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shinny.
  9. ALMOND PASTE is made by placing the almonds and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until it looks like fine cornmeal then add extract, water and remaining sugar until a paste forms. This can be frozen but thaw 1 hour before using.
  10. Notes: If you don't have candied orange peel I would use grated fresh orange peel from 1 orange. I used half and half instead of heavy cream for the chocolate sauce and that worked fine. This recipe has been slightly adapted.

Pears for Dessert, 3 Ways!

Here’s a few simple desserts using fresh pears which I happen to have an abundance of!
Marsala Baked Pears, doesn’t that sound good to you? Believe me when I tell you, it was!

The flavor is out of this world because what happens here is while the pears are baking their continually soaking up butter and Marsala to the point where they become beautifully caramelized, when finished and still warm they become the perfect companion to ice cream,
whipped cream, or luscious mascarpone! You can garnish with something crunchy like nuts or crumbled biscotti, need I say more?


Not really a recipe, here’s what you do;
Peel and slice pears lengthwise, place them in a baking dish, pour in sweet Marsala wine half way up the side of the pears, place dabs of butter all around and sprinkle wine with sugar or you can even use honey just to sweeten everything up a bit. Place in a 350F oven for around a good hour basting them often, you’ll know their done when the liquid becomes caramelized.
Pear and Ricotta Tart, This is a standard recipe I use whenever I want to bake a fruit of any sort with ricotta. I use a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom then place a good pre made pie dough into the bottom, ( I told you it was simple!) of course you can make your own if you like. To insure the dough being crusty and cooked on the bottom I like to blind bake the dough for a five minutes in a 425F oven by placing a piece of parchment paper on top and then adding some beans or pie weights, then remove, take off the weights and reduce oven to 375F.
For the filling;
1lb ricotta cheese
6 0r 7 ripe pear halves, sliced lengthwise and cored
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Fresh orange zest or 1 heaping tablespoon of apricot preserves
Pinch of cinnamon

Mix everything together in a bowl until well blended, (except the pears of course). Place filling into pie shell and position pears all around. ( optional, sprinkle and swirl more cinnamon on top) Bake at 375F for around 30 minutes. While still warm brush apricot preserves on top of pears. Let it cool down while you put on a pot of espresso!

And last but not least, Chocolate Ricotta Filled Pears. Turning creamy white ricotta into chocolate is so quick using cocoa powder and then pairing it with orange is a match made in heaven! I can’t wait to try this with strawberries, because we all know how good chocolate and strawberries are!
Poach 3 whole peeled pears in 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup of orange juice, cook around 10 minutes in a covered pan , when pears are tender remove and cool down.When cooled, slice them lengthwise and remove cores.
Ricotta Filling:
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mini chocolate chips, ( as many as you like)
Combine everything into a bowl then spoon the mixture into the center of the pears. Garnish with orange zest and more chocolate chips.
Recipe adapted from BHG
Note: For a real quickie, use purchased bottled pears, I tried it, it’s good too!
Buon Appetito!




Pears with Gorgonzola

Autumn fruits are everywhere and pears are definitely in season. I’m certain you’re going to love this recipe if you’re a Gorgonzola fan. Pears with Gorgonzola, it’s such a perfect paring! (no pun intended). Ripe juicy pears, cooked in Marsala wine that reduces down and becomes infused in a wonderful glaze. Each pear is then topped with a combination of Gorgonzola, mascarpone and toasted chopped walnuts.

I love the deep rich salty flavor of Gorgonzola and the “bite” it gives you from it’s blue vein. Combine that with the sweetness of the pear and Marsala. Perfection!

This recipe comes from an old issue of Tastes of Italia magazine, the recipe is for 4 servings but you can alter it for 2.
4 Pears cut in half lengthwise, remove cores.
2 Cups Marsala Wine
2T Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Sugar
2t. lemon Zest
4oz Gorgonzola
3 T Mascarpone
2T Toasted Chopped Walnuts
In medium pan combine wine, sugar, zest. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pears and cook 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Remove pears, place on serving dish. Bring wine mixture to a boil, cook for 6 minutes until liquid thickens. Remove, let it cool and drizzle around pears. In a small bowl add mascarpone, Gorgonzola, and chopped walnuts, mix well then fill pears.

Here’s another way of getting that same flavor combination of pears and Gorgonzola, something that you could put together fast for either a quick appetizer or an ending to a meal. Peel your pears and cut them into 1 inch chunks, cook them in warm honey until tender, then skewer a piece of Gorgonzola between 2 pieces of pear, finish with an extra drizzle of honey. Enjoy!
Buon Appetito!