With all of the added responsibilities of the holidays, the last thing people need is more stress from the mere thought of entertaining. But inviting guests over for an impromptu seasonal gathering doesn’t have to be stressful. A nice wine such as a California Pinot Grigio, a few appetizers, a dessert and some fun conversation are all you really need for a successful, low-maintenance gathering.
One appetizer that pairs really well with wine is a toasted flatbread with caramelized onions, Gruyere, thinly sliced pears and fig jam. This flatbread was inspired by items I regularly stock in my pantry and refrigerator for easy assembly.
I find that once toasted, naan bread is soft and chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside, and it’s sturdy enough to sustain a lot of toppings without getting soggy. Caramelized onions add luxury to any appetizer and pair well with the sweetness of the figs and pears. Gruyere balances out the sweet flavors with a creamy and pleasantly salty bite, and arugula adds peppery freshness to this flatbread. Slice each naan flatbread into four rectangles for appetizers, or make an extra one for yourself as an entree, because there won’t be any left once your guests have departed.
Fig, Pear and Gruyere Flatbread
• 4 pieces naan bread (white or wheat)
• 1/2 cup fig jam
• 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced (1/2 to 1/8 inches thick)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 Bosc pears, sliced thinly
• 1 large handful arugula
• 6-ounce package Gruyere, sliced thinly
• Pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (optional)
Heat butter in large saucepan over medium until melted. Use skillet with high sides to cook onions, to keep them from flipping onto stove.
Add a couple large handfuls of onions to pot. Cook, stirring, until onions are soft and starting to turn translucent, 1-2 minutes. Stir in a few more handfuls of onions and repeat cooking and stirring process until you’ve added all onions. Add a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to saute onions, stirring every few minutes to prevent them from sticking and coloring too much in any one place, until golden-colored, approximately 15-20 minutes. If you feel like onions are getting too brown around edges or they’re sticking, reduce heat. Set onions aside.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Spread each piece of naan with thin layer of fig jam, then add pear slices, followed by cheese slices. Repeat for all pieces of naan.
Place flatbreads on cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes. Remove and top each flatbread with a small handful of arugula. Sprinkle arugula with pepper. If desired, sprinkle arugula on each flatbread with balsamic glaze, or even extra-virgin fruity olive oil for more richness. Cut into slices and serve immediately. Makes 16 servings.
Los Altos resident Blanche Shaheen is a YouTube cooking show host and food blogger. For more recipe ideas, watch her video tutorials at youtube.com/blanchetv or visit her blog at feastinthemiddleeast.com. She will also be leading a Middle Eastern cooking class at Draegers Menlo Park next March 13.