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Fast, healthy pear crisp good for any season

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press

This is just too tasty and easy with only 5 ingredients, so enjoy it soon

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 8:21 am

Sometimes, even on a weeknight, you really crave a little dessert. But making dessert takes time, and you already are spending time cooking up the main event, namely dinner.

That's where this recipe comes to the rescue. It's a quick, easy and delicious pear crisp that calls for just five ingredients — pears, granola, lemon juice, apricot jam and a pinch of salt.

Pears are just now at the tail end of their season. Yes, I know we can find pears all year these days. But believe me, those specimens are going to be nowhere near as electrifying as a fully-ripened in-season local pear. The problem is the relative rareness of such pears. Ralph Waldo Emerson was onto something when he wrote, “There are only 10 minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”

In other words, most of the time, no matter where it comes from, our pears aren't at the peak of perfection. And for those times, when pears are unripe and you don't have time to let them ripen, this recipe comes in mighty handy.

Baking an unripe pear not only makes it tender, it also crystallizes and magnifies the fruit's flavor. Happily, any kind of pear — and there are many varieties — will work in this recipe, as will a mix of varieties.

Pears also have a lot to offer in terms of health. They're a good source of vitamin C and a great source of fiber.

As for granola, there are a zillion brands in the cereal aisle of the supermarket. The problem is that many of them are laden with fat and sugar even as they masquerade under a healthy halo. That's why recommended portion on the back of most granola boxes is just 1/4 cup. Pour yourself a normal, adult-sized portion, and you may as well be eating a meal of waffles and sausage.

So when you shop for granola, look for a brand that's lower in fat, sugar and calories than the competition — and which also contains lots of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. And if you want to bump up nutritional value of this recipe even more, you also could add 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed.

I wouldn't worry too much about the amount of granola in this recipe. Per serving, it's about what the granola box recommends, and mostly serves to put the crisp on this pear crisp. Heck, you'd be much better off serving this dessert for breakfast than dogging a big bowl of nothing but granola.

Speedy pear crisp

Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active)

Servings: 8

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon apricot preserves or sweetened fruit spread

4 pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Table salt

2 cups purchased granola

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat shallow 6-cup baking dish with cooking spray. In small saucepan over medium-low, heat preserves until melted and easily stirred.

Set sliced pears in large bowl, then drizzle preserves over them. Add lemon juice and salt, then toss well. Spread pears evenly in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle granola evenly over pears, then cover dish loosely with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, or until pears are tender. Serve hot or cold.

Per serving: 210 calories; 25 calories from fat (12 percent of total); 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 50 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 27 g sugar; 3 g protein; 55 mg sodium.