Dinner Tonight: Pear and Gouda Dutch Baby & Escarole Salad

Just because it's a weeknight doesn't mean you can't play around a bit in the kitchen, and a savory Dutch baby is nothing if not playful! Plus, with a healthy dose of smoked gouda, it's a surefire crowd pleaser -- hearty enough to be a meat-free main dish, yet light enough for a weeknight. A pink-speckled, pleasantly bitter radish and escarole salad lightens things up and, as always, everything comes together with minimal fuss.

The Menu

Pear and Smoked Gouda Dutch Baby by fiveandspice

This recipe serves about 6-8 as a side

8 tablespoons butter (preferably unsalted, but salted also works), divided
1 medium leek, washed and sliced thinly (just the white and very beginning of the light green portion)
2 medium pears, ripe but still firm, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk (whole milk - it's the holidays, don't skimp!)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 cups grated smoked gouda cheese (smoked mozarella will also work if that's all you can find)
1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, to garnish (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 425F. In a large sautee pan, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter over medium and cook for about 3 minutes, until it starts taking on a little nutty smell. Add in the leeks, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Then, stir in the pears and cook for another 3 or so minutes until they are browned and softened as well. Remove from the heat..

2. Put the eggs, milk, flour, salt and pepper into a blender and whirr them at high speed for about a minute, until they are well combined.

3. Plop the remaining 6 Tbs. butter into a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or, if you don't have one, you can use a baking pan of a similar volume) and put the pan into the oven. Wait until the butter is completely melted and sizzling, then (carefully!) take the pan out and swirl the butter around to make sure the pan is coated.

4. Spread the leek and pears on the bottom of the cast iron. Pour the egg mixture on top. Finally, sprinkle the cheese all over it and put it back into the oven for 20 minutes, until browned on top. The pancake will puff up as it bakes (though not as much as a dessert one that doesn't have the chunks of deliciousness).

5. When finished, take the Dutch baby out of the oven and scatter the chives (or another fresh herb of your choice - like thyme or sage) across the top. Serve warm. If you want to, though, you can also make the Dutch baby ahead of time, set it aside, and then reheat it in a warm oven for 10-15 minutes right before serving.

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Radish and Escarole Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Get the recipe.

The Grocery List

Serves 4, generously

1 bunch radishes
1/2 head escarole
1 leek
2 pears
3/4 cup grated smoked gouda
Fresh chives for garnish (optional)

We think you're a cool, stocked-pantry sort of person and probably already have anchovies, red wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, white pepper, olive oil, butter, flour, eggs, and milk. If you don't, you'll be needing those, too.

The Plan

1. Tonight's plan is super straightforward. The salad comes together in no time, so make the Dutch baby first. While the oven is heating, sauté those sliced leeks and pears. Whiz up the pancake batter in the blender. Get some butter bubbling in your cast iron pan, and pour it all in.

2. While the Dutch baby bakes and puffs in the oven, fix the salad. Dress at the last minute, and serve cold and crunchy alongside the rich, warm Dutch baby. A big, puffy, cheesy pancake for dinner? Who said weeknights are no fun?