Spinach and goat cheese tart with roasted peppers and tomatoes
I have this strange feeling lately, from time-to-time, that I can’t complete a sentence. The words will get stuck somewhere between my brain and my tongue. I’ll wait patiently and powerlessly for somebody to hit me on the side of the head and unjam the process, but whomever I’m addressing will just give me a pitying but bewildered look and go about their business. Why is this happening? I don’t know! It’s senility, probably, but it feels oddly adolescent. I believe I spent my teenage years desperately trying to get my strange thoughts into the world, and then desperately trying to recall them and hide them away once I had, mortified by their strangeness and lack of consequence. And then as I got older I became much chattier, because I simultaneously realized that some of the best thoughts are strange thoughts, and that nobody gives a hoot about what you say, anyway, because they’re not listening half the time and they certainly won’t remember. There’s no point in agonizing regretfully over some stupid thing you said when nobody heard it in the first place. Thus followed a long period of time when I never stopped talking. I turned into a veritable warbling vireo
. But with maturity comes increased self-doubt and self-censorship, and the new realization that it doesn’t matter all that much anyway what you say, because nobody is listening half the time so why bother? And you understand that it’s good to listen to other people, and that you have to stop talking for a minute in order to do that. Last night I was lying next to a pukey Isaac as he drifted off to sleep and listening to his odd, sleepy thoughts. He pondered the difference between funny ha ha and funny strange. It bothers him that people use “funny” to mean strange, because it’s not really funny at all. And it suddenly made perfect sense to me that the truth is funny strange, and the best way to express it is with the humorous kind of funny, as comedians and court jesters have known for centuries. And the best way to do this is to be fearless and to plough right on through even if the words come out garbled. And we may both have fallen asleep before I articulated all of this, but that’s okay, because my smart, honest, eloquent Isaac is every kind of funny, and he knows it already. So if I’m talking to you and I seem to get stuck half-way through a sentence, give me a gentle tap on the head, and we’ll see if my nonsense was worth hearing in the first place.
Roasted pepper and tomato tart
My friend Diane commissioned a dish for mother’s day. She wanted a vegetable side dish, and somehow I got the impression she wanted it to be substantial enough that any vegetarian guests could call it a meal. So, of course, I made a tart. It’s loaded with vegetables, and with colors and flavors. I had to make it a couple of days early, so I roasted the peppers and tomatoes, and dried them out in the oven a bit, so that they wouldn’t turn the tart too mushy. I think it worked well! (I made one for us, too, to be sure it was tasty, and I’m glad to report that it was!)
Here’s Belle and Sebastian’s Get Me Away from Here I’m Dying because he says, “Oh, that wasn’t what I meant to say at all,” which is such a lovely thing to hear in a pop song!
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup crushed pecans
4 oz frozen unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix the flour, salt and pecans in a medium-sized bowl. Grate in the frozen butter, and mix with a fork till you have coarse crumbs. Stir or rub in the olive oil. Add enough water to make a workable dough. Knead for about a minute to make sure everything is well-incorporated. Make into a flat round disc, wrap in foil and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
2 red peppers, or 1 red 1 yellow
4 or 5 plum tomatoes
1 T olive oil
1 t balsamic
1 t chopped rosemary
2 cups spinach, washed and chopped
1 cup chives, washed and chopped
1 T olive oil
1 t basil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella, cut into small cubes
Put the peppers in a roasting pan in a single layer. Slice the top off the tomatoes, squeeze out some of the seeds (but don’t crush the tomatoes too much) and slice them to be about 1/8th inch thick rounds. Spread these in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, and sprinkle the rosemary over all. Put the peppers and tomatoes under the broiler. Broil until the peppers are blackened, turning them as they go, so that they become black on all sides. The tomatoes should get a little tinged with black, but don’t let them burn.
Take the blackened peppers out and put in a bowl with a plate on top. Leave to sit and steam for 15 minutes to half an hour. Set in a sieve over a bowl to drain. (Keep the pepper juice for anotehr recipe) Carefully peel and seed the peppers, trying not to tear them, and slice them across into rounds.
When the oven has cooled, return the tomatoes to the oven on the lowest temperature (mine was on “proof”) for a few hours, so they’ll dry out a bit. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to burn. You can skip this step if you’re in a hurry.
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and chives and basil, and cook until the spinach is wilted and the pan is quite dry. Transfer this mixture to a food processor. Process with the eggs, goat cheese and milk till smooth but with flecks of green.
Preheat the oven to 425. Roll the dough out to fit your tart pan. Press it in and make the edges fairly even. Pre-bake for about ten minutes, till it loses its shine. If the edges fall, press them up again carefully with your fingers or a spoon.
Scatter the mozzarella over the crust. Pour the egg/spinach mixture into the prebaked shell. Arrange the peppers and tomatoes in a pretty pattern over the top of the spinach and egg mixture.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the tart is puffed and golden. Let cool, then remove from the tart pan.