Green spring tart (with pistachios, pine nuts, asparagus, olives, brie…)

Green spring tart

Green spring tart

AMERICAN MYTHOLOGIES #6. SUPER HEROES

I love all the “real” myths. The ancient stories, as old as humanity, which resonate and repeat around the world, answering questions about the origins of everything: how did the world begin, how do we make our place in it, where did we come from, where are we going? They answer the earliest questions, questions of conception, birth, creation. In the grand scheme of things, America is a very young nation. We’re teenagers, maybe. Or maybe we’re at that age just past adolescence when our swagger starts to falter, and we try to relive our glory days and we regret the insouciance of our youth. Accordingly our own mythological figures, our superheroes, have more adolescent concerns. These are the stories we all know, as Americans, these are the tales of valor, the epic struggles, the characters with godly speed and strength, with more-the-human abilities. And they help us to address, as a nation, all of the anxieties in our teeming teenage brain. How do we explain the changes in our body, which we can neither understand nor control? And these changes bring about a strange new power, which we can neither understand nor control. And, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, and if there’s one thing teenagers hate, it’s responsibility. Superhero myths help us to work through anxieties about the source of our power–the science and technology that have changed our lives faster than we can compute. They helped to make us a super power, but they made us dangerous, too, and our morality didn’t always develop at an equivalent rate. The older myths tried to make sense of the justice or lack of it that people faced every day, and our superhero stories do this, too. When our authority figures mete out unfair punishments, just as in the earlier myths, super people and lesser gods try to trick the most powerful. Our superhero stories help us to understand evil, the dark side, and that it’s sometimes part of ourselves, confusing and strangely compelling. And they reflect a strangely American optimism: anything is possible, ordinary people are capable of great things. My boys have known the superhero stories almost sense they could talk. They seem to have learned them by osmosis. And as long as they could talk they’ve imagined powers for themselves, they’ve invented “guys,” who are capable of weird and wonderful things. They give them a history, an origin story, they draw them and sing songs about them, and they become them as they fly down the street, leaving all the worries of the real world behind.

I tried to put every green thing I could think of in this tart! So it’s got spinach and arugula and tarragon inside, and it’s got bright castelvetrano olives, asparagus and pistachio nuts on top. It was a nice combination…juicy and bright and nutty all at once.

Here’s MF DOOM’s Beef Rap, with the spiderman samples!

The Crust

1 t yeast

1 t sugar

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups flour

1 t salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl and leave to get frothy. Then add all the other ingredients and mix to gather to make a smooth dough. Add more water if you need to. Knead for 3 or 4 minutes till it’s smooth and elastic. Lightly oil the bowl, return the dough to it, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place till roughly doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Lightly oil a cake pan. Flatten the dough into the pan, and using the heel of your palms, push it into the edges of the pan. You want it to be fairly thin, maybe 1/4 inch. Press it up the sides of the pan and let it stick out over the top a bit. You want it to be as even as possible, thickness-wise.

Bake for about five minutes, till it just loses its shine. If the edges start to brown, take it out and set it aside.

The Filling

1 T olive oil

1 plump clove garlic, minced

2 t fresh rosemary

1 t dried basil or small handful fresh

8 – 10 oz arugula or baby spinach chopped

1/2 cup grated sharp mozzarella

1/2 cup grated mozzarella

1/3 cup roasted pistachio kernels

1/3 cup toasted or roastedĀ pine nuts

3 eggs

dash of milk

1 T loosely packed fresh tarragon

salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

In a large frying pan warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, rosemary and dried basil if you’re using. Stir and fry for about a minute till the garlic starts to brown. Add the arugula or spinach and cook till wilted, and the pan is quite dry. Set aside

Put the cheese in a food processor and process until all chopped up. Add the nuts and process again till coarse and crumbly. Add the eggs and process again until fairly smooth. Add the spinach and tarragon and process until even smoother, but not completely smooth. Flecked with color and texture is nice. If the mixture is still very thick and stodgy add a dash of milk and process again. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour/scrape the filling into the crust and smooth it over.

THE TOPPINGS

Small bunch asparagus

Large handful castelvetrano olive, pitted and chopped

8 thin slices of brie

small handful pennants

Cut the coarse ends of the asparagus. Combine the tips in a small saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, shut off the heat and cover. When it’s wilted and bright green, drain the water and set aside.

Arrange the asparagus in a pretty pattern over the top of the tart, alternating with the brie. Scatter the olives and pine nuts over the top.

Bake for about twenty minutes, until the top is puffed and golden and firm to the touch and the brie is melted. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, turn the heat down to 375.

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