Break out your sweet tooth, because it’s about to get indulged… and without all the saturated fat that usually also comes along with pie-eating.
Here, fresh dates, olive oil and almonds take the place of the butter and lard usually stuffed into a pie crust. So your heart will be as happy as your taste buds. This crust recipe also calls buckwheat flour. Now, don’t let the name fool you – buckwheat does sound like it has wheat, but they are not even related. It is gluten-free, whole grain goodness (OK, technically buckwheat’s a seed, but it’s so nutrient dense and versatile I keep it in the grain category for posterity), and it’s totally delicious, especially when combined with pear. Use any leftover buckwheat flour to make crepes.
Normally I reserve pears for tarts and apples for pies. I won’t make that mistake again! This pear pie was so devine; to call eating it “love” is absolutely appropriate. I used d’Anjou pears, but other varieties could work too.
To lightly toast the sliced almonds, pour almonds into a medium fry pan over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, tossing almonds often. Cool before using.
Do note that several ingredients will be used in both the pie filling and crust.
Tip #1: Before you fold the chocolate into the pears, do make sure to cool the filling well enough so that the chips keep their shape and don’t melt away on you. The separate tastes of the little chocolate bits on your tongue, along with the luscious pear, plus the dark, decadent almond crust- wow, total mouth party!
Tip #2: Use 1 or 2 pears that are real ripe; the rest firm. The ripe ones will break down extra during the pan cooking process and give you a thick, delicious syrup. Don’t use too many really ripe pears or you will only have syrup! If you do make it super syrupy, use extra arrowroot to thicken it up. Likewise, if you use all under-ripe pears and get little syrup with cooking, then cut your arrowroot by half.
Got to have nothing but love for a slice of pie that’s healthy enough to call Breakfast food.
1/2 cup Dates, pitted, quartered
1/4 cup Water, to be divided
1 cup Almonds, sliced, blanched, lightly toasted
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Buckwheat flour, to be divided
1/4 teaspoon Salt, to be divided
2 tablespoons Olive oil, to be divided
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, fresh grated
3 pounds Pears, fresh, rinsed
2 tablespoons Arrowroot powder
1/2 cup Chocolate chips*
In a small bowl add the dates and water. Let dates soak 15 minutes. Do not throw away soak water!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Into a food processor add the soaked dates, almond slices, 1/2 cup of the buckwheat and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. As you pulse-mix the ingredients together, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons worth of the reserved date soak water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix until you have a moist, nut-speckled thick “paste”. Press the crust into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pie pan, making sure to evenly distribute. Set shell aside.
In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/8 tablespoon of the salt and the remaining date soak water and stir to combine. Peel and core pears, then slice to about 1/8-inch thick, tossing the pear slices into the sugar syrup as you go to keep the fruit from browning.
In a large pan add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pears and cook while stirring, about 5-7 minutes, or until pears are tender. Remove from heat; into the pears stir in the remaining tablespoon of buckwheat flour.
In a small bowl, add the arrowroot. Add a few tablespoons of pear syrup to the arrowroot and stir until the arrowroot is fully dissolved and there are no lumps or clumps. Pour the arrowroot mixture to the cooked pear slices and stir well to combine and thicken.
Allow the pear slices to cool down. Fold the chocolate chips into the pear slices then pour filling into pie crust.
Bake for an hour. Cool pie on a bake rack. Before it has cooled, gently run a butter knife between the crust and the pie pan edge once (helps keep crust from sticking as it cools). Once cooled, slice into pie wedges and serve.
*Allergy note: Double check that your chocolate chips are dairy-free and gluten free before using, if needed.
Makes 8-10 servings.