Pear Crostata With Orange-Vanilla Crust

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First of all, let me just say, “WOW!!!!!!”  Thank you so much to everyone in the foodie food buzz world for all of your positive feedback and encouragement and enthusiasm for the new! I posted on Chef Dennis’ site that “I am, because we are” and I realize that more than ever!!! 😀

Now, on to the food! I may have gone a bit overboard with cooking this Christmas, but my brother, nor Andre complained, and now I have lots to share on the blog, so all’s good! I’ve actually made this crostata (galette/tart/pie) three times this month, which should be a testament to how easy to make this is. The first two times I used a store bought pie crust. The third time, after finding out that Andre didn’t eat dairy, I decided to make my own … vegan pie crust (for the very first time)!!!  I swear, I should really become the poster child for Earth Balance, because it truly is amazing!

Pear Crostata With Orange-Vanilla Crust

1 pie crust (see recipe below or use pre-made)

2 red Anjou pears–sliced and cored (keep peel on)

5 tablespoons of brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons earth balance

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon agave

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/8 cup dried cranberries

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
*Cut pears into eighths. Add to baking dish with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of earth balance in pats, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes, until pears are barely soft and the sugar is bubbly.

*Roll out pie dough and place onto cookie sheet. Add remaining brown sugar, walnuts, and cranberries to center of pie dough leaving a 2-3 inch border around the dough (you’ll be folding up the dough).

*In a bowl combine pears (drained, use slotted spoon), vanilla, cornstarch, agave, and salt. Mix. Arrange pears on top of prepared pie dough. Pour remaining syrup on top of the pear mixture (reserve 1 tablespoon of syrup). Fold up pie dough around fruit. There should be fruit peaking out the center (it’s very pretty!).

*Melt last 1 teaspoon of earth balance and combine with 1 tablespoon of cooking syrup. Brush pie dough with this ‘butter-syrup’ mixture; sprinkle with turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Bake in preheated oven approx. 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

(I wasn’t going for the sexy look in these pictures… I got some earth balance on my lens and thought my eyes were just blurry from lack of sleep… that was until Andre came over and told me I had butter on my lens! Hahahaha!)

Some Notes: 1. Always thinking about simple ways to infuse more flavor into my dishes, I added vanilla extract and orange zest to the pie dough before baking. The extra flavor was subtle, but definitely worth the small extra step. 2. I wanted the crust to shine, so I blended 1 tablespoon of the cooking syrup from the pears with 1 teaspoon of melted earth balance and brushed it on the dough before baking. Viola! The crust browned beautifully! 3. Last, I want to (re)emphasize how simple this crostata is! The first time ‘I’ made it, actually ‘we‘ made it. The youth at SEEDS and I prepared this crostata for the final SEEDS lunch of the year. Everyone marveled at how pretty it was. And on Christmas, my brother told me that he wasn’t expecting it to taste as good as it did because he’s never heard of pear pie before. This crostata is a hit!

Orange-Vanilla Pie Crust Recipe
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup earth balance (cold, and in pats)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/8 – 1/4 cup ice cold water

*Mix flour, salt, sugar, and zest in bowl. Add to bowl of food processor. Add vanilla, cream, earth balance. Pulse in food processor until combined and butter is in small pea sized pieces.
*Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of water. Pulse. Keeping adding water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulsing until dough just begins to form and pulls away from blade. You may not use all of the water.

*Add a bit of flour to the surface of your counter. Knead dough a few times. Form dough into a thick flat disk and wrap with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate.

Written by

Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DC’s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantra—love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. This combination of flavors sounds amazing! No wonder you had no complaints!

  2. I’ve never thought to combine orange and vanilla with pears before, but it sounds like an amazing combination. Pretty crostata, too! I could just dive face-first right into that pear filling. 🙂

  3. Yumminess! That’s beautiful! I love the flavors – great job!

  4. Thanks Ladies! It’s kind of crazy how EASY this was, BUT how hard it looks! Those recipes are the best!

  5. I was just looking for a vegan pie crust this weekend. This one sounds delicious and so fancy! Thank you!

  6. That’s awesome Nikki! I’m glad the timing worked out. Adding the orange zest was a small little step … but I think it added some freshness for sure! 🙂

  7. Great job with the crust being dairy-free. I don’t know that I could have done that. The crostata looks fantastic. I’m a huge pear pie fan so I’m glad everyone there was willing to give it a go.

    • Thanks!

  8. Crostata’s are the only way I make pies anymore, I just love them! Your pear crostata sound delicious, I have never tried earth balance, I will have to give it a try!

  9. I couldn’t agree more Chef! I love the ‘rustic’ look 😀

  10. I love crostatas, I’ve never used Earth Balance before, I will have to be on the look-out for it. Like how you added the orange too! It bet it smelled good. Have a great weekend.