Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Roasted Tomato Tart

The book club ladies were coming and I was craving a late-summer treat. If you haven't noticed from my keyword sidebar tool, I'm addicted to tomatoes. This time of year, I literally eat them almost every day and I'm trying to get every last sweet bite in before fall arrives. And goodness, with a monster basil plant in the backyard -- you heard me right, I didn't kill it yet -- my tomatoes have had the perfect compliment all summer.

Okay, okay... you get it... I love tomatoes. But I love this tart too. It's a show-stopper. Bright and beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes roasted until they just burst with juice. Needless to say, it was completely gone by time the book conversation ended and the wine glasses were emptied.

With a puff pastry shell, it's a pretty quick turn dish. You could easily repurpose the filling to suit what's in season too.

Book clubs and tomato tarts. Pretty much the best.

Roasted Tomato Tart
1 sheet puff pastry
Flour -- for sprinkling
1 small log goat cheese, softened
2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Chopped basil, for garnish

Allow puff pastry to thaw according to package instructions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Flour your surface and rolling pin and then roll out puff pastry large enough to fit a 10-inch tart pan. Carefully lay into tart pan. Use a paring knife to lightly score the pastry along the bottom rim, where the bottom meets the sides. Prick the bottom of the pastry surface all over with a fork.

Bake puff pastry for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool and remove carefully from tart plan. If preparing a day ahead, store in an airtight container.

Preheat broiler on the low setting.

On the day of serving, melt butter and sugar together in a pan over medium heat until caramelized. Add tomatoes to pan and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat tomatoes in caramel mixture. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While tomatoes cook, spread softened goat cheese in the bottom of the tart shell. Broil on low for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melty. Use a slotted spoon to carefully arrange tomatoes on top of goat cheese. Drizzle remaining sauce over tart and garnish with basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weeknight Idea: Nectarine Shrimp Tacos

Okay okay... I know your Facebook feed is full of first day of school pictures and you're dreaming of a new Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper, but Fall's not here yet. Especially in the produce aisle. So put off that damn Pumpkin Spice Latte for a few more weeks and enjoy the freshness while you still can.

When fruit is this good, take it beyond breakfast and try a savory preparation. I love sweet stone fruits in cool dishes this time of year and the flavors of Mexican cuisine lend themselves really well to using fruits. I whipped up these nectarine tacos in under 20 minutes on a weeknight. Fresh, spicy, sweet and crisp.

Pumpkins and boots are coming, but live in the moment why don't you? The nectarines will thank you.

Nectarine Shrimp Tacos
1/2lb cooked shrimp (thaw the frozen stuff or use grilled, if you have it)
1 large avocado, chopped
2 ripe nectarines, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon mango chutney
2 generous pinches salt
6 corn tortillas

Toss together shrimp with avocado, nectarines, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, chutney and salt. Serve in warm tortillas and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kale and Tahini Salad

I've been hitting the kale salads hard this summer. I've done a lot of different versions here -- from massaged to citrus to anchovy -- but this tahini take may be my favorite yet. With a nutty flavor and creamy texture, it gives kale some flavorful heft without the insane calories of a cheese or mayo based dressing. 

If you're not familiar, tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is common in Middle Eastern dishes. When you put it with lemon juice it's got a depth of flavor that's sometimes hard to put your finger on, but makes you say "hmmmm."

The dressing and kale would be great on it's own, but with some spiced chickpeas, veggies, quinoa and grilled chicken this summer salad sings with flair and is a fulfilling dinner or lunch. 

Kale and Tahini Salad
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups kale, washed and chopped
2 red peppers, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 cup spiced chickpeas
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced

Combine shallot, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt and pepper in a jar and shake. Toss together dressing with kale and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. Top with red peppers, tomato, quinoa, chickpeas and chicken. Enjoy!