Spring. Pasta.

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I know. I know! FOOD! How freaking crazy is that? On a FOOD blog?

Alright. I’ll stop being dramatic. I just realized that, if I didn’t post something soon, May would go by with not one single post. And I know that, even though it’s only May 15th, because we’re about to get up out of this country for nearly 2 weeks, and I definitely won’t be posting then (since, you know, I barely post now..).

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Also, Spring won’t be around forever, will it? Although I hear it still feels like Winter in the Midwest, it does actually feel very springlike here in San Francisco, and even down in Palo Alto where I work it isn’t blistering hot yet. That said, I figure I should share this spring-like recipe while I still can, because it’s definitely something you should consider making.

I made this pasta recipe a month or so ago, and it is chock-full of spring veggies – broccoli, asparagus, even little cherry tomatoes. You could practically toss in whatever you like – possibly green beans, some roughly chopped kale or chard, whatever. The sauce that results from the pasta liquid, tomato juice, and melted cheese is really light, so light that you have to take care not to make any more pasta than the recipe dictates, or else it will be really dry. If you want a richer pasta, you could probably add a little white wine, or a tablespoon of butter to the pot at the same time you add the pasta water. For me though, I wanted to really focus on the veggies, and that’s the intention here: simplicity, good produce at its Springtime best.

I hope everyone has/has had a lovely Spring. I also hope you’ve enjoyed the rando pics I’ve posted. It’s my little way of barely hanging on to this blog and not totally saying goodbye. It’s nice to still have things to share, and despite having limited time, the picture-sharing is a great way to keep up. Hopefully, more recipes will come, but we’ll see how things go. I can’t remember the last time I took a photo while cooking – probably this one!

So, until next time, stay warm/cool/whatever ;).

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Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes
adapted from Food&Wine, April 2013; serves 6

time commitment: ~1 hour

printable version

ingredients

2 bunches of broccolini or broccoli (about 1 1/4 pounds), thick stems halved lengthwise

1 garlic clove, sliced

5 T evoo, divided

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds red cherry tomatoes

6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

1 pound tagliatelle

2 T unsalted butter

Large pinch of crushed red pepper

1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley

About 1/2 c shaved ricotta salata cheese, for garnish

instructions

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, toss the broccolini and garlic with 3 T of the olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper; spread on a rimmed baking sheet. In another bowl, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 2 T of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes, until the broccolini is tender and charred in spots and the tomatoes are very juicy but not broken down.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the scallions until just softened, 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the scallions to a bowl. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Return the pasta to the pot. Add the roasted broccolini, scallions, asparagus, butter, crushed red pepper and half of the parsley. Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the pasta is al dente. Gently fold in the roasted tomatoes and any juices and season with sea salt and pepper. Garnish with the shaved cheese and the remaining parsley and serve right away.

Bloody. Mary.

I wish I could tell you guys that my house was a party pad the night the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. I wish I could tell you I enjoyed all the Giants fans on the Caltrain during my already-long commute home from work during home games. And I wish I could tell you that I skipped out of my conference in Boston to watch them sweep Detroit like it was nobody’s bizniss (although, I will admit that some conference-skipping did occur, but primarily for hanging out and catching up with lots of GC buddies).

I can’t say any of those things. Baseball just isn’t my thing. Winning is cool though, so it was fun to be around all the hype here at home during the last few weeks. For me, I totally prefer NFL season and watching the Bears, who aren’t half bad this year.

I won’t pretend that I keep up with all the stats, that I know the first and last names of all of the players, or that I attentively watch every second of every game (Chris would call me out on this in a heartbeat, because I definitely use TV-watching as a time to multitask). Regardless, when it comes time to watch games around here, on Sunday, it’s something that has to start early, and it has to be done right. Thank you, Pacific Time Zone.

Clearly, this means you need Bloody Marys, because drinking beer at 10 is only for tailgating at NC State games. Bloody Marys are way more classy, and you all know I am ALL about class.

super-spicy bloody marys
makes ~48 oz, or 6-8 drinks (depending on how thirsty you are!)

printable version

ingredients
garnish
1/2 lb thick-cut bacon
cherry tomatoes
pickled green beans
cocktail onions
whatever else you want to garnish with..

salty-smoky-spicy rim
1 T hot smoked paprika
1 T kosher salt
1 T granulated garlic
1 T celery salt
fresh cracked peppercorn
1 t cayenne pepper
2 limes, cut into small chunks

beverage
32 oz organic tomato juice
16 oz decent vodka (Svedka is what I used)
3 T sriracha
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 t wasabi paste
juice of 1 lime
1 T chipotle Tabasco sauce
2 T brine from a pickle or olive jar
1 t celery salt
1/2 t kosher salt
a few turns of fresh-cracked black peppercorn

instructions
preheat oven to 400 F. cut strips of bacon in half and bake on a foil-lined baking sheet fitted with a rack for about 20-25 minutes. remove and let come to room temperature.

meanwhile, make drink, garnishes, and salty rim. make the garnishes by skewering the tomatoes, beans, and onions. and make the rim salt by combining all dry ingredients and dumping some onto a small plate (or special rimming salt dish if you have one). combine all ingredients for beverage in a large container. whisk to ensure that wasabi and other ingredients are well-dissolved.

once the bacon has cooled, assemble the drink by running a small lime slice around the rim of your glass, dipping the rim into the rim salt, and then add 1 bacon strip and 1 garnish skewer along with some ice into the glass. pour that tasty beverage on top and drink drink drink.

 

boy, this cat LOVES her bacon so much that she waits patiently at the oven for it. Okay, she looks to be patiently waiting, but truthfully she meowed for 15 minutes straight. and then i gave her one teeny tiny morsel. she lives a tough life…

grillin’ the most

I can’t tell you people how often I’ve gone into a grocery store with a list, only to leave without at least one item on said list. And not on purpose.

And I should add here, that I am quite the strategic little planner when it comes to grocery shopping. I don’t always shop at the same neighborhood Whole Foods, but in general the layout of most grocery stores is the same. So I write my list according to what I’ll walk through first. I load up on produce and stuff from the dairy/meat section (the outer parts of the store), then my list thins out once I hit the inside of the store to the processed/canned goods. Word on the street is that’s a big deal in eating right.

So with my planning, not only am I increasing the likelihood of “eating right”, but also I’m increasing the likelihood that all the things on my list will be found – especially important for the many times I leave my pen in the car and can’t cross things off.

And yes, I do try to make a list on my iPhone, but I find it hard to walk through the store holding my phone up. It’s almost as bad as texting and walking (I suppose it’s the same as texting and walking, but also pushing a cart, so actually worse). Those are the folks I want to punch in the face, so I figure I should try to stick to the pen and paper.

Anyway, I’d decided to join the hoards of 6:00 shoppers in the downtown area Trader Joe’s last week for a change of scenery, and also because I knew for once I could get everything on my list there without having to go to another grocery store. It was, needless to say, mass chaos. People pushing through to grab the $1.99 arugula and the free samples of artichoke dip, and meanwhile the stockers were pushing their carts through the store with a “kill or be killed” sorta mentality. But no bigs – I went into it knowing it would be crazy, and crazy was what I got. I also ran into Judy! That never happens.

I’d found all of my produce, and then lo and behold, I found totally fresh corn on the cob (meaning, not already shucked and put into plastic containers for a higher price), so I went to put back the other one, and somewhere in the mix I absolutely forgot to grab the fresh corn. So when I got home to make this GRILLED CORN and bean salad, I just had a bunch o’ beans.

Solution? I texted my dear husband and asked for a last minute stop for some corn which, he obliged to, knowing his dinner depended on it. I grilled fresh corn, onions, and jalapeños and tossed them all with beans and tomatoes, and a perfect summer salad (4th of July party, anyone?) was made.

The End.

p.s. Last Friday I posted some 4th of July recipe suggestions. Click here and scroll to the bottom! Happy 4th :).

Grilled Corn & 3 Bean Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012; serves ~12

printable version

time commitment: 30 minutes

ingredients
1 c halved heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 t salt, divided
3 ears shucked corn
1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 jalapeño peppers
1 T olive oil
Cooking spray
1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c fresh lime juice
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 diced peeled avocados
1/2 c queso fresco

instructions
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes.

Brush corn, onion, and jalapeños evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeños 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs (if you’re smart, you’d do this over a bundt pan so corn doesn’t fly everywhere). Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado and queso fresco.

Cobbled Together

In an effort to avoid the grocery store this weekend, I raided the heck out of our pantry to see what we could eat to get through the week. You see, I already have an issue with letting good food go to waste, and this is only intensified when I’m forced to let things go to waste as a result of being away for a few days. These are the times when I might cobble together a recipe with a ton of random ingredients (panzanella salads are great when there’s lots of produce involved, and this Moroccan shepherd’s pie was a great way to use up mashed ‘taters) or conversely, I might make something uber simple using some standby grains or pasta.

In general, they aren’t meals that really make one salivate, but they get the job done, more or less.

Of course, there are always the exceptions – the dishes you toss together, pulling stray carrots and a forgotten bunch of scallions from the crisper to add up to enough stuff to make a meal come together – that somehow end up tasting like you’d planned it that way all along. It helps when you have a few fresh ingredients hanging around (thanks, Joanne, for the tomatoes!), because those are the ones that provide the inspiration, the kick-start to power you through to the end of the recipe, if you even have a recipe in the first place.

(The fresh ingredients are also the ones that make me feel a little less guilty about tossing leftover bagged shredded cheese into a perfect biscuit dough, knowing full-well that a freshly-grated cup of cheddar would have been tons better, not only in terms of taste, but also quality and texture.)

So, here we are, at the moment where I did something like that and actually get to tell you about it, because I truly feel that this new-found recipe is something you just might want to make yourself. I take that back – it’s something you should make yourself. Rarely is there a time in the year where the produce is this perfect, this satisfying, and this accessible than now – when you get to eat fresh corn and! fresh tomatoes ’til your heart’s content. And I’m telling you this: if you do have access to both ingredients, straight from the market or the store, please do purchase them. I think I already mentioned my stubborn desire to avoid those places this week, and as a result my trusty freezer bag o’ corn came in handy here. And while it was fine, mighty fine indeed, I know it could be that. much. better. with just-shucked morsels of yellow goodness.

If the mixture of tomatoes and corn isn’t enough to get you in a tizzy, have you noticed the biscuits on top? Need I say more?! Even though I’ve moved away, I still read the blogs of many Chicagoans, and I tell ya – Midwesterners get some kinda excited about summer produce. Tim over at Lottie + Doof posted a tomato cobbler recipe from Martha Stewart a couple of weeks ago, and it sounded like the kind of food they’d have in Paradise. I figured I could make it work, or something like it, even if I didn’t have but approximately half as many tomatoes, no regular onions, heavy cream, or Gruyere on hand, not to mention a penchant for never adhering to the regular ol’ all-purpose flour suggested in most recipes.

So yeah, you could say this recipe is a pretty far leap from the original, but that’s what happens from time to time. You may not have scallions on hand, and maybe you have a different cheese, or no cheese at all, and maybe you have neither pancetta nor bacon for the smoky twist I was craving. Maybe the carrots aren’t doing it for you, and understandably so, maybe you don’t have 10 types of flour in your pantry (15-20 if you count the ones used almost solely for gluten-free cooking). You might even be one of those people who are afraid of a little shortening in your life, for reasons I just can’t figure out. I promise you – it’s okay, and ultimately, it might even be better to use this as your inspiration, and run with it (after, or course, you put down your knife…).

I’m sure Martha would understand.

Tomato & Corn Cobbler
Inspired by Lottie + Doof; serves 4-6 as a meal

time commitment: 2 hours (~40 minutes active)

printable version

ingredients
filling
2 T evoo
2 oz finely chopped pancetta or bacon (optional)
6 scallions, chopped
2 carrots, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c fresh or frozen corn (2-3 ears if fresh; thawed and drained if frozen)
~1 lb cherry tomatoes
~1 lb heirloom tomatoes, medium dice
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
3 T white spelt flour (or all-purpose)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

biscuit topping
1 c white spelt flour
1 c whole wheat flour (or use 2 cups all-purpose flour to replace both)
2 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 T shortening, cut into small pieces
1 c grated cheddar cheese, plus 1 T, for sprinkling atop biscuits
1 1/2 c buttermilk, plus ~2 T more for brushing

instructions
Make the filling. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta, if using, and cook for 2 minutes, then add onions and carrots, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Toss in corn and remove from heat; let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss onion/corn mixture, tomatoes, red-pepper flakes and flour with 1 1/2 t salt and some pepper.

Make the biscuit topping. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and 1 t salt in a bowl. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Stir in cheese, then add buttermilk, stirring with a fork to combine until dough forms.

Transfer tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon large clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/3 c each) over top in a circle, leaving center open. Bake 30 minutes. Remove, and brush dough with buttermilk, and sprinkle with remaining T cheese. Bake until tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, another 30 minutes or so. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes.

Fit for a Cat

Are you a cat lover, or a dog lover? Or perhaps one of those cruel heartless no-animal-lovers? I’ve been a cat lover all 30 years of my life, except for a brief moment when one of our family cats, Bugsy, prompty swacked a notch outta my face about, oh, an inch from my eye because he didn’t want me to play with him (aka pull his tail and chase him around the house…). What kinda cat doesn’t wanna play with an excited toddler?!

Of course, being a cat lover doesn’t preclude the possibility of dog affection. I’d really like to be an avid dog lover, but apparently that’s a decision that must be agreed upon when you’re married. There’s really no compromise when it comes to wanting a dog: you get one, or you don’t. We’re stuck on the latter for the time being. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve pondered using the “look at this poor innocent puppy I found in the alley and he’s so pitiful and cute and we just can’t leave him out there all alone can we?” tactic, but it’s hot out there these days and I really don’t want to sleep on the park bench…

Of course, it may be for the best, because I’m not sure that Tange and I would be able to share bacon with anyone else. It’s hard enough to share with just her – I mean, look at her and her colorful personality: sweet and innocent to clawing and showing teeth, to content, chunk o’ bacon in mouth, teeth gnashing. I’m not sure how she discovered bacon, really. I was never one to feed her ‘non-cat’ food, but early-on she discovered the land of carbs when I brought her home after being spayed; she’d not eaten all day, and the first morsel of food she found was a bag of Thomas’ bagels. Before I could gather my thoughts (it takes longer than you might think), she’d torn into that bag and eaten half a bagel. (We don’t leave bread out, ever, or she would demolish it, thanks to that one episode.)

And then I found her dunking her paw in my coffee one day. Oh boy. Somewhere along the way she found bacon, perhaps she was fed by an old roommate, who knows. But, I dare you to try to eat your bacon without her knowing, and when she finds out, because she will find out, without her using her good looks and pitiful meow to coerce you into feeding her a few crumbles. Still today, just the smell of it wakes her from a coma at the other end of the house.

I gotta disclose here, that she wasn’t mad in this picture, really. I just happened to catch her ‘standing’ and pawing for a piece of bacon that was in my left hand, and my camera just happened to be in my right hand. I don’t always torture her like this, I promise. Plus, she didn’t mind because she was rewarded for her photogenicity with 1/4 of a piece of bacon.

What can I say, we spoil each other :). But she’s in my top two, so it’s ok, I think.

And you can’t blame her for being so incredibly in love with bacon, can you? I mean, what’s not to like here? I find you can squeeze bacon onto just about any dish, and only the vegetarians would be sad about it.

That said, when I came across a BLT sandwich disguised as a salad, I knew it was time to crack open that pound of bacon in the freezer. A perfect summertime meal, there is minimal cooking involved here and for those of us in 90-degree + weather, that seems to be a goal these days. Fry up some bacon, hard-boil some eggs, and toss it into some greens, tomatoes, and if you’ve got an extra one, a cucumber, and you’ve got yourself a salad fit for a king. Or a queen. Or a bacon-loving cat.

Bacon, Lettuce, & Cherry Tomato Salad w/ Aioli Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2010; serves 2-4 as a meal

there’s certainly nothing at all wrong with leaving this salad as is, but you could drive the whole BLT analogy home and bake some bread cubes into croutons, if you’re so inclined. i was not, but if i made this salad again, i might swap the egg for bread.

printable version

ingredients
2 eggs
5 oz applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices)
12 c torn romaine lettuce (from 1 large head)
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and/or pear tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, sliced into half-moons (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 T chives, chopped

instructions
hard-boil eggs (place in saucepan and cover with water, cover & bring to boil, turn off heat and let sit for 12 minutes, rinse eggs until cold water and peel). can refrigerate until ready to use.

cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until desired temperature (i like mine extra-crispy) and move to paper towel-lined plate to drain. reserve half of bacon fat.

toss lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber (if using) in a large bowl. heat bacon fat to medium. add garlic, then mayo and vinegar, and whisk until smooth (less than 1 minute); season with salt and pepper and toss with salad. sprinkle bacon, eggs, and chives over salad and eat immediately.

Redemption Song

{If you’re hoping for a recipe for the 4th, this probably isn’t it. But check here for a bunch of past summer recipe suggestions – there are plenty of things to be grilled, especially my favorite burgers!}

I’m not about to delve into my years as a young, semi-hell-raising teenager; on occasion, my mom reads this blog. But I’ll share a few tidbits.

In my family, I was the smart, oddly-dressed, middle child who, according to my sister, was never grounded and always got her way. Rightfully so, my senoir superlatives were as contrasting as apples and oranges: “most likely to be a millionaire” and “most retro”. Clearly, I failed to live up to the former, and in terms of the latter, I only occasionally wear polyester pants & platform shoes; in fact, the most retro I get these days is wearing a sleepytime t-shirt from the 90’s. And truthfully, I wasn’t grounded often. The key to avoiding such punishment is simple – don’t get your ass caught, sista.

I went through what you might call a hippie phase, and then a grunge phase, and then I couldn’t decide so I just went with both. Amidst the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin there was Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I rocked the “60’s retro-wear” on some days and my dad’s flannels and corduroy pants for the days I jammed to Jeremy and Porch. For a few months I shaved the back of my head and I still can’t figure out the point in that. Somewhere, Bob Marley fit into these crazy years too, but fortunately for me (and others) I never had the desire to abandon hygiene and “grow” dreadlocks. There’s still time for that…

I like to think that my musical choices haven’t changed, but have instead broadened. I still break out the grunge rock somewhat regularly, but less often do I find myself singing Sugar Magnolia or breezing through Songs of Freedom. I’m not sure I’d use the term evolve here, in fact I know I wouldn’t, because that implies a sense of improvement and lemme tell ya, you can’t improve upon that stuff. In fact right now I just changed my Pandora station to reggae. What the hell.

Now for the transition you’ve all been waiting for: in contrast to music, food choices do evolve, or mature. Remember the tomato story? Exactly. And sometimes you really get smacked in the face, front-on, by something you thought you hated, despised even, but then months later you realize how nutty you were, how naive, or maybe quite simply how horribly this certain ingredient was prepared.

This dish here is a perfect represention of food evolution, or redemption. The first time I made quinoa, I almost spit it out because it “felt weird”. Then I learned how to cook it. And remember my diatribe about escarole? Well, ignore it. When I pulled it out of the CSA box last week, I stared at it, wondering how many sleepless hours I’d endure if I just casually tossed it in the garbage. The answer? too many, because food costs good money and wasting it is lame. So I sucked it up and found a good hot preparation for some of it that was reasonably yummy (and not overly bitter), and then used the rest of it in the recipe below instead of the suggested spinach. Maybe I got a bad batch before, or maybe this batch from a local, organic farm was just better. Either way, both quinoa and escarole have redeemed themselves.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, I have leftovers to eat and jammin’ to do.

Quinoa, Bean, & Escarole Salad w/ Smoked Paprika Dressing
Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2010; serves 6-8

ingredients
1 1/2 c red quinoa (regular works too), rinsed & drained
4 c chopped escarole or other bitter green
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed (or dried, cooked beans)
1 can white beans, drained & rinsed (or dried, cooked beans)
1/2 unpeeled English cucumber, halved and sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 T fresh oregano, chopped
3 T fresh basil, chopped
1 c crumbled feta cheese (~5 oz)
1/4 c Sherry wine vinegar
1 T sweet smoked paprika
1/2 c olive oil
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

instructions
place quinoa in large saucepan and add water until quinoa is covered by 1 inch. bring to boil and reduce heat; simmer on med-low for 15 minutes. drain, if needed and let cool completely (toss out on sheetpan and refrigerate if needed).

combine lettuce, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and feta in an extra-large bowl. add cooled quinoa and toss gently.

in a small bowl, whisk vinegar and paprika together. slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly until incorporated. season with salt and pepper. pour over salad and mix. add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Be Still, My Tart

To think that I used to hate, no – loathe, even dispise tomatoes is a true testament to the ever-evolving tastebuds, and/or my own personal shortcomings. My face used to shrivel up, and my hair would stand on end like a defensive feline any time someone mentioned adding tomatoes to a dish.

Ever so slowly, I came around. First, it was non-chunky tomato sauce, which was a great accomplishment. Then, diced tomatoes in that tomato sauce, which was so much more than a baby step, in my opinion, since I was eating visible pieces of tomato. I must say though, my tomato-liking progression was stagnant at the diced tomatoes in sauce for many a year.

Until I was introduced to heirloom tomatoes, which actually wasn’t until last year. Late last summer I was wandering through Green City Market, excited to finally see those Flamin’ Fury peaches piled high atop the tables at the entryway, welcoming visitors, enticing those leaving with bags void of their juiciness. As usual, I was drawn to the free samples, and in one short moment I detached myself from the taste of those juicy peaches to catch a glimpse of what looked like a sight for sore eyes: a wonky, lumpy, bumpy, and strangely-colored ‘blob’ on the neighbor’s table.

Some were green, some purple even, and others traditional red-orange, but with stripes. After a bit of staring, as we humans often do when things look different, I finally realized the stubbly mounds before me were tomatoes, but special tomatoes. I grabbed a few, stashed them in my reusable bag, and made a bee-line for the exit without even stopping for my fourth or fifth free taste of the Flamin’ peaches.

I don’t even remember what happened to all of those tomatoes. I know a couple made it on to burgers for July 4th and I know some homemade pizza was also in attendance that day, smothered with heirlooms and basil. A later purchase of green zebras ended their journey in my belly battered and fried. The others? I could have eaten them whole, for all I know. A true sign that I was a different person, a complete 180 of my former, tomato-hating self.

I like this version of myself much better, new and improved with tomatoes and ready to face the world.

It’s because of those heirlooms that I have now fully embraced all things tomato, minus eating beefsteak tomatoes raw as my mom used to do (and probably still does). So when I saw this tomato tart recipe in Food and Wine my jaw dropped and I immediately found myself salivating. Unfortunately, I was thousands of miles in the air on the way to Seattle, then New Mexico, and thus at least a week away from any remote opportunity to cook this jewel.

Eventually the stars aligned – I was back home and in need of a first course to pair with bouillabaise for a French-inspired dinner party and although there are many things far Frenchier than this, I was in no position to deny myself this recipe any longer and so I forged ahead. Simple, delicate, and bursting with juicy slow-roasted tomatoes, this tart is a perfect welcoming to a slowly-approaching spring. Worth the wait? You bet, but if I were you I wouldn’t.

What about you – what are you just dying to make for spring?

Whole-Wheat Cherry Tomato Tart
Adapted loosely from Food & Wine, April 2010; serves 8 as appetizer or first course

printable recipe

ingredients
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1 t dried Italian seasoning
5 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 T shortening, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 c 2% milk
2 1/2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes
2 T fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
1 T evoo

instructions
Spray or butter a 9-inch tart pan. In a food processor, pulse the two flours with a pinch of salt and the Italian seasoning until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and pulse until the dough nearly comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times. Shape into a disc, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready for use.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Roll out the dough to a 14-inch round. Press the round into the tart pan; trim off any excess. With the tines of a fork, pierce the dough softly multiple times, making small holes in the dough. Mound the tomatoes in the shell (they should sort of pile up on one another and be squeezed in together). Brush with olive oil. Bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, until the dough is evenly browned. Let cool. Season with salt, garnish with the basil and serve.