This dish of warm, cinnamon-scented pears with a nutty crumble topping makes you feel good before you even take a bite. Its homey aroma fills your kitchen as it bakes so you can’t help but smile with anticipation.
The dessert delivers completely when you dig in, too, not only because it hits the spot as a comfort-food classic but also because it achieves that goal in a healthier way. Rather than being loaded with added sugar, the natural sweetness and subtle flavor of ripe pears shine through, enhanced with a little maple syrup and gently spiced with ground cinnamon and ginger.
And instead of leaning on butter, white flour and sugar for the crumble topping, this one is centered on the nutty crunch of ground almonds (or almond meal) with healthy oil and two kinds of whole grains: oats and whole-wheat flour. The recipe has just the right level of sweetness to satisfy as a dessert, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on top, but not so much that it would be out of place for breakfast. I can tell you firsthand that, with a dollop of yogurt, it is a lovely way to start the day.
Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author. She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
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8 to 9 servings; you’ll need an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
For the topping
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon slivered almonds (may substitute 1/2 cup almond meal)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or instant)
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (may substitute regular whole-wheat flour)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil, or other neutral-tasting oil, plus more for the baking dish
For the filling
3 pounds ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4- inch slices
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the baking dish lightly with oil.
For the topping: Process the slivered almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle with the 1/4 cup of oil; stir until well incorporated.
For the filling: Combine the sliced pears, maple syrup and lemon juice in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger; stir until the pears are evenly coated. Transfer to the baking dish, then crumble the topping over the pears.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition per serving (based on 9): 250 calories, 3 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar