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Divas on a Dime:

As the seasons pass, we’ve moved beyond the apples and pumpkins. Peppermint has had its day. Now, ready to step into the spotlight, is the succulent pear.

Except for Bartlett pears, nearly every other pear is in peak season through January and February. This includes Green Anjou, Red Anjou, Bosc, Comice and Asian pears. It’s a bounty of mouthwatering options.

You can’t depend on color to know if a pear is ripe, especially with winter pears, as color remains the same into ripeness. To see if a pear is ripe, apply gentle thumb pressure to the base of the stem. If it gives slightly, it’s ripe.

If you purchase unripe pears, place them in a paper bag at room temperature and give them the thumb test daily. When ripe, refrigerate them if you don’t plan to eat them right away.

Personally, I don’t mind an over-ripe pear. I like it when you have to eat them over the sink because the juice runs down your neck and up to your elbows. Perfection!

In this recipe, I used red and green Anjou pears. Their smooth skin and firm, creamy flesh makes them perfect for baking or poaching as they hold their shape nicely.

Similar to a pie, crostata is a rustic, freeform Italian tart. Other names would be a galette if you’re feeling French or rustic tart if you’re not feeling fancy pants. A crostata (I’m feeling Italian today) cooks faster than a pie and can be sliced while warm. But a warning; it’s going to leak. But that’s ok, just use parchment to ease cleanup.

PEAR CROSTATA

Yield: 4-6 servings

Time: 1 hour total

What You’ll Need:

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

3 – 4 red and/or green Anjou pears, cored and sliced thin

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

1 refrigerated pie crust, or homemade crust for a 9-inch pie

1 tablespoon milk

Sugar for sprinkling

2 tablespoons sliced almonds – optional

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 400°F. To make vanilla sugar; place the sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle the vanilla over the sugar and whisk to thoroughly combine. Add the brown sugar, flour and salt, then whisk. Toss the pears with the lemon juice, then toss with the sugar mixture.

On a piece of parchment; roll out the dough to form a 12-inch circle. Spoon pear mixture onto center of crust, leaving 2 inches from edge of dough. Gently fold the edges up and around the pears, pleating to make a circle. Brush the dough with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Lifting the parchment, lay the crostata on a baking sheet with sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden and the pears are tender, you’ll want to watch closely in the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle almonds over pear mixture during last 5 minutes of bake time. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This recipe can be a fabulous dessert or a rather decadent breakfast. Sometimes food talks to me. What did the pear say to the almonds? “You’re Nuts!”

Frugal and Fabulous Food by Patti Diamond from “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” – www.divasonadime.com Join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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