This is the longest absence, by a long shot, I’ve taken from this blog since its inception more than three years ago. It’s been a struggle, to put into words exactly why I needed a break. I still have no solid reason. Nothing happened. It was just a persistent feeling: the need to sit peacefully for a minute, to take time away from constant, frenetic connection.
It’s been a season of sea change. I am re-learning how to focus on what’s actually, concretely important, instead of attempting 100% all the time, running myself into the ground in the process. I’m rejiggering my expectations: drinking a cup of tea and staring out the window doesn’t have to be a lazy act; often it is restorative and necessary. I put so much pressure on myself, both in this space and in life, and it’s only served to make me bone tired. Constant activity, trying to please everyone—it’s simply not sustainable.
I’m working to figure out what I want. I’d like to come out the other side a more joyful person. Like anything worth doing, progress is slow, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m no longer swimming under water.
The woman across the restaurant in the big hat, who smacks her lips unembarrassedly and pronounces her wine “delicious.” Serial. Sandy Kenyon’s movie minute. The apartment-filling smell of caramelized onions. Walking along the Manhattan bridge alone on a brisk November Sunday, listening to a book on tape. Sauce, copious sauce, in almost any variety. The port-in-a-storm quality of the international foods section in the otherwise hectic Bed, Bath, & Beyond on 6th avenue. The earth-sweet-pungent smell of Concord grapes at the market. Homemade hot chocolate. Sitting alone at the kitchen table, licking oozing goat cheese slowly off a dull knife. Pulling a slim volume of Mary Oliver poems off the shelf and carrying it to bed.
The whole wheat dough was adapted from Marian’s recipe on Food52. I decided to mix the dough in a food processor, although the original recipe is made by hand, and you can go low-tech if you prefer. Chill the dough overnight if you can. (It can also be made up to three days ahead, or frozen.)
The type of mushrooms you use is up to you; as long as you can roast them, you’re good to go. For the pesto, I alternatively use arugula, kale, or store bought basil. You can substitute the goat cheese for any other fresh cheese, like ricotta. And the Parmesan can be exchanged with any other hard, nutty cheese like gruyere, Grana Padano, or pecorino. (I typically use a mix of whatever is looking sorry in the cheese drawer.)
You can prep and roast all the vegetables up to 2 days ahead, and feel free to change up the vegetables to suit your needs and the season. I’ve tried squash, broccoli, boiled potatoes, and eggplant. Broccoli and cauliflower with cheddar would be nice. I’ve also tossed in sausage, merguez or italian.
The tart is good for a few days covered in the refrigerator. I often resuscitate slices in the toaster oven, and they taste good as new. Serve with green salad. Serves 8.
- whole wheat dough ingredients
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup (110 grams) AP flour
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) kosher salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup or 113 grams) chilled unsalted butter
- 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2.5 tablespoons ice water
- tart filling ingredients
- 1 punnet mixed cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium-sized, diced zucchini
- 1 punnet diced mushrooms
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-sized, thinly sliced yellow onion
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1/4 cup chiffonade-d basil
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- whole wheat dough procedure
- Move both flours and the salt to the bowl of a food processor; pulse 10 seconds. Slice butter directly into the bowl; pulse for 30 seconds, or until the butter turns to pebbles in the flour. Pour the apple cider vinegar and chilled water into the bowl in a slow stream; pulse another 20 seconds, or until the dough comes loosely together. Turn the dough out onto a floured sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a disk. Dust it all over with more flour; wrap tightly. Chill dough at least one hour.
- After chilling, roll the dough out and fit it into a 10-inch tart pan. Blind bake the tart shell at 375F/190C for 15 minutes, and then remove the weights and bake another 10 minutes. Allow the tart shell to cool slightly.
- tart filling procedure
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes, the diced zucchini, the diced mushrooms, and the garlic cloves with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Scatter the vegetables across a baking sheet; roast at 400F/204C for 40 minutes, moving the vegetables around on the tray at the 20 minute mark. (This can be done up to 2 days ahead. Keep the vegetables in a sealed container in the refrigerator until you need them.)
- Move the sliced onion to a heavy-bottomed pan, and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, and then add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Allow the onions to cook, stirring as you go, until they are deep brown; about 40 minutes total. (This can be done up to 3 days ahead. Move the onions to a sealed container in the refrigerator until you need them.)
- Crack the eggs into another large mixing bowl. Add the half and half, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan; whisk until the goat cheese is marbled evenly into the cream and eggs. Whisk in the herbs. Set the bowl aside.
- Scatter all of the vegetables inside the tart shell. Pour the egg mix over the vegetables. Spoon-swirl the pesto into the egg mixture. Finish with a flurry of red pepper flakes. Bake the tart at 375F/190C for 40 minutes. Allow the tart to cool for 15 minutes before serving.