Four years of MSV! I hope you're as jazzed as I am. Let's eat dessert. And let's not spend too much effort making it.
In fact, ease has been a major theme on MSV over the past year. When I started MSV, I had been vegan for only a year. This blog gave me a place to direct my energy and figure out a new way of eating. I had endless patience—enthusiasm, even—for experimentation.
Four years later, I have less patience, but more experience. I still screw up in the kitchen, of course, but I generally have a better sense of what works for me. One thing that hasn't changed in these four years is my fundamental preference for freshness, but the way I pursue that now looks much different than the way I did it back then. Now I'm much more focused on offering everyday foods, stuff you can take for lunch—important tools to help people keep plants at the center of their diet. And though the protein question is sometimes tossed around as a tiresome inquiry, I don't mind taking the question at face value and answering it two weeks out of the month, or whenever I come up with a good answer.
That's the public part of the way I've come to shape this blog. Privately, I'm a little more focused on working pleasing food into my life rather than making food my main hobby. That means spending less time in the kitchen without sacrificing pleasure by recognizing that sweet spot of low effort and high return.
Enter this lovely pear tart. Pie dough actually isn't a big deal. Once the sleeves are rolled up, there's nothing to it but to do it. And the end result is so good. But for some reason, I dread the idea of making it. And so this dead-simple shortbread-style press-in crust (you may have noticed) has become my go-to crust. It's rich, it has a wonderfully firm texture that shatters satisfyingly under tooth, and it takes stunningly little effort to make. I add cornmeal for a little texture and extra flavor, and because I never stop putting cornmeal in all my baked goods for a little texture and extra flavor.
This really is designed to scratch the pie itch without having to touch the rolling pin. To do that, you'll essentially marry a tart with a fruit crisp. The crumble topping is lovely and effortless, but the flavor and richness is bolstered by the addition of almond flour. For the filling, thinly sliced pears are tossed with apricot jam to give the fruit that, well, jammy quality that's usually achieved in a pie by baking fresh fruit with starch under the top crust. Buy the best apricot jam you're willing to spring for, and you're all set. Here's a tip: choose the least expensive apricot jam with apricots listed as the first ingredient. For the best flavor, skip anything that lists sugar first.
And there you have it. Easy enough for your kids to help you make it (if you have those), and good enough to entertain with.
Here's to four years! I can't thank you enough for being here. —Amanda
Dead Simple Pear Tart
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
1/3 cup melted refined coconut oil
For the filling:
2 medium just-ripe green pears, thinly sliced
1/4 cup apricot jam
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch fine sea or kosher salt
For the topping:
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup blanched almond meal
1 TBSP turbinado
1 TBSP melted refined coconut oil
pinch fine sea or kosher salt
Heat oven to 375.
Begin with the crust. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add coconut oil and mix until sandy and uniform. Press into a 14x4-inch nonstick rectangular tart pan. Bake 13-15 minutes. The crust will go from done to burned with speed, so watch—and smell—carefully.
Meanwhile, toss filling ingredients until uniformly coated. In another bowl, stir all topping ingredients together with a fork until uniformly coated.
When the crust is done, remove from oven and reduce heat to 350. Add pears evenly to crust. Sprinkle topping over pears. Bake until pears are tender and topping is golden, 17-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan. Remove tart pan sides after tart has cooled. Serve at room temperature.