Recipe: Pears with Herbed Ricotta and Honey

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts Wednesday night this week. Many Jewish holidays have associations with certain foods, and on Rosh Hashanah it is typical to see honey consumed in many different ways, all in celebration of the coming a sweet new year. And in my opinion, the best way to eat honey is alongside some creamy, curdy ricotta cheese. Below is a great, seasonal recipe from the September 2005 issue of Gourmet Magazine that features honey, ricotta, and pears. And please, do yourself a favor and get some really rich ricotta, like this sheep's milk version made by Dancing Ewe Farm.

1 (15-oz) container whole-milk ricotta
5 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 firm-ripe Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled if desired
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs

Stir together ricotta, 2 tablespoons honey, thyme, 1 tablespoon basil, 1 tablespoon mint, and a pinch of salt.

Halve pears lengthwise and scoop out core with a melon-ball cutter or spoon. Leaving stem end intact, cut each pear half lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and gently press against a work surface to create a fan shape.

Divide cheese mixture among plates and top with a pear half. Drizzle remaining 3 tablespoons honey over pears and sprinkle evenly with pine nuts and remaining tablespoon each of basil and mint.

Makes 6 dessert servings.