local, seasonal: rustic almond pear tart

Saturday was our last farmers' market of the year.  It's a shame since there is still so much produce growing locally, but I'm grateful that we have it at all for as long as we do.  So many communities have little access to fresh foods, and I don't take ours for granted.

We bought peppers for another batch of pepper relish and came home with an overflowing half-bushel of organic pears for only three dollars. I knew right away that I wanted to make this rustic pear tart.

I often clip recipes that I never make or try once and never go back, but this tart remains a favorite that I return to every autumn.  This isn't a food blog, but I wanted to share it anyway because it's fairly simple, seasonal and a crowd-pleaser for dessert or brunch.

1-1/3 c flour (I haven't, but I'm sure you could use half whole wheat flour)
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
2 to 3 Tbsp cold water

3/4 c sugar (could reduce or substitute a smaller amount of maple syrup or honey)
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 c flour
1 tsp lemon essence (or a bit of freshly grated lemon zest)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
4 medium ripe pears, sliced (I leave peels on, especially if pears are organic)
1 Tbsp butter

1 egg white
1 tsp water
1 Tbsp coarse sugar

1/4 c confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted

Combine flour, sugar and salt and cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll into a 14-inch circle and transfer pastry to a baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, almonds, flour, lemon essence/zest and cinnamon. Add pears and toss to coat. Spoon over the pastry to within 2 in. of edges; dot with butter. Fold edges of pastry over pears. For topping, beat egg white and water. Brush over pastry; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.

For glaze, combine sugar, milk and vanilla and pour over warm tart. Sprinkle with almonds. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

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