Pear Crostata with Olive Oil, Walnut & Cornmeal Crust

Pear Crostata with Olive Oil, Walnut & Cornmeal Crust

A fruit tart with ripe pears, and a rich cornmeal and walnut crust with beautiful lattice top.

If you don't have a food processor, you can use the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, a pastry cutter, or two forks to cut the cold butter into the cornmeal-flour mixture. Make sure that you choose a fine grade of cornmeal (not the coarser polenta) for best results. And, you can make the pastry ahead, store it refrigerated, sealed in a plastic bag, for up to a week. Let it warm up a little bit before rolling it out.

The recipe calls for 2 1/2 pounds pears, and you can substitute apples for half. The two fruit combine beautifully! My own favorite formula is 3 granny smith apples, 1 very ripe d'anjou pear, and 1 bosc pear.

Ingredients

For The Pastry:

  • 1/2 cup chopped California walnuts
  • 3/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • About 1/3 cup water

For The Filling:

  • 2 1/2 pounds ripe pears (any kind, or a mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • *Greek yogurt, for serving, optional

Directions

For The Pastry:

  1. Combine the walnuts, cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse until the walnuts are ground into a coarse meal. Pour the olive oil on top of the dry ingredients in the food processor. Run the machine in a few long pulses, until the oil is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse once or twice—just until it is incorporated—then pulse in enough water to bring the dough together. Remove the dough from the food processor, and gather it together, kneading lightly into one mass.
  2. Break the dough into two uneven pieces, approximately 2/3 and 1/3. Form each piece into a ball, and flatten each ball into a thick disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Ease it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable base, and trim the edges. Roll out the smaller disc and cut into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.

For The Filling:

  1. Peel the fruit and cut it into thin slices. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, and drizzle with lemon or lime juice and maple syrup. Sprinkle with the flour and salt and toss to coat.
  2. Spread the fruit in the crust. Arrange the strips of dough on top in a crisscross pattern; then push the ends of the strips into the edges of the bottom crust to hold them in place. (You might need to wet them a little to make them stick.) Place the filled tart on a baking tray, and bake in the lower half of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden on the top and around the edges.
  3. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the rim of the pan and serving the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature. This tastes especially good with a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side.