We are lucky to be celebrating a series of social events denied us last year. After being locked down for so long, there is an embarrassment of riches laid out before us this weekend: Juneteenth (our newest federal holiday), Father’s Day, and the Summer Solstice. Let the summer games begin!
Here is the latest update from the Spy Container Garden 2021: we have tomatoes. And a few of them are turning red. I listened to latest episode of The Splendid Table podcast while Luke the wonder dog and I were working on our 10,000 steps the other day. It is delightful episode about June in three regions of the United States: https://www.splendidtable.org/episode/2021/06/11/3-junes One of the guests interviewed was Chef-Farmer Matthew Raiford, who farms and cooks in Coastal Georgia. He said there are three essentials that must to be ripe by the Fourth of July: corn, tomatoes and watermelon. The Spy on track for the tomatoes, with one is ripening on the vine, and another is pinking up on the kitchen windowsill.
Tomorrow is Juneteenth. Juneteenth commemorates the day when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston learned they were free. Red is a powerful color, and red foods are important to Juneteenth celebrations: red beans and rice, strawberry soda, watermelon, red velvet cake, barbecued meats, and, of course, tomatoes. https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/a36479941/juneteenth-food-traditions/
Fresh tomato tarts are perfect to bring to your Juneteenth celebration. They aren’t fancy, but they are beautiful, and they are deelish. I found a few tomato tart recipes which showcased the beauty of tomatoes. The tarts are simple to put together and can be brought to potlucks and picnics all tomato season long. They are divine warm, or at room temp. You can use store-bought tomatoes if you must, but it is smugly satisfying to use the ones grown in your own back yard. Save the store-bought card for the pie crust.
I adapted this recipe from the New York Times:
1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium)
¼ cup pesto*
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (I used some left-over mozz from last week’s Friday Night Pizza, and added another handful of ground Parmesan cheese)
1 tablespoon torn fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 large eggs
⅓ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon Maldon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*For the pesto I tossed a fistful of basil leaves (we have basil growing in abundance on the Spy Container Farm this year!), a clove of garlic and about 1/4 cup of olive oil into the blender and blended it until it was a bright emerald green liquid. Then I spread it with a pastry brush on the browned pie crust.
• Heat oven to 350°F. Fit the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
• Bake for 15 minutes, until beginning to brown at the edges. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
• Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a colander to drain excess tomato liquid for 20 minutes.
• Spread pesto in an even layer over the pie crust. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan over the pesto. Scatter the fresh, torn basil and oregano over the cheese.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper.
• Neatly place the sliced tomatoes evenly over the cheese and herbs in overlapping concentric circles. I found this process strangely soothing, although I heard Julia Child’s voice in my head: “It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate — you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”
• Pour the custard evenly over the tomato slices. Bake until the filling is set and won’t jiggle when shaken, about 35 minutes.
• Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving warm. This tart can also be served at room temperature. It is also delicious cold, eaten out of the fridge for lunch, when you are suddenly ravenous and can’t be bothered to make a delicious tomato sandwich from the bounty on the windowsill.
This tart was lighter than a frittata or quiche.
There usually is a paywall challenge with New York Times articles, but here is a link to the recipe, just in case: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1021252-heirloom-tomato-tart?
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
— Toni Morrison