The market season is shifting, as we move from Spring to Summer. We will say goodbye to my favorite little pie cherries this week, welcoming blueberries and raspberries to our tables. We’ll see the last garlic scapes… escape (In fact, there were only a smattering yesterday.) but can anticipate fresh garlic (Just got my first bulb!) any time now. Kale is quickly becoming the only “green” as the sun gets hotter. While it can be disappointing to see what we love disappear (and tempting to go rough at the supermarket for out-of-season, high-carbon-footprint produce—don’t do it!), I see this as a magical opportunity. The turning of the season is our chance at variety, creativity and ingenuity. So this week, we’re making tarts—one for dinner and one for dessert–staying pretty local the whole meal through.
I came upon this Rustic Mushroom Tart recipe in one of my Penzeys spice catalog mailers. The great thing about a Penzeys mailer is that, in addition to checking out their great spices, you can get some wonderful recipe ideas and read inspiring stories about other people who love to cook.
Actually, what drew me to this tart was not the recipe at all; it was the story of the person—Annie Laurie Cadmus, director of sustainability at Ohio University—who contributed the recipe. She just touched my heart with her enthusiasm and commitment to “work with students, faculty, staff and community to encourage behavior change in a way that supports environmental and economic lifestyles today and well into the future.” Wow.
What I love most about Ms. Cadmus is her attitude. She’s so open to helping anyone get started in a greener way of life. She and her students oversee the “largest in-vessel composting facility on any college or university campus in the nation.” They are able to reclaim and recycle much of the food waste on campus into healthy, nutrient-rich soil. And, they maintain great outreach to the local community, creating an effective learning environment far beyond those “ivy towers.” Remember, I’m pretty adamant about lowering waste, so I’m quite pleased to bring her and her work to new eyes. Her tart recipe embodies that green philosophy by using locally foraged mushrooms and garden-fresh spinach or kale.
With only a few small changes of my own, the Rustic Mushroom Tart is Ms. Cadums’, not mine. But it sure gave me an idea for dessert and a final “thank you” to those special little pie cherries. As it happens, her savory crust can make a great dessert pastry with only few tweaks. And you know the very BEST reason to make a rustic tart? “Rustic” means your crust is always perfect… even when it’s not. See what you think!
- One and a quarter cups wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour, which gives you a slightly lighter dough. This works especially well for the dessert version.)
- One-half teaspoon salt
- One-half teaspoon California Basil (A special herb blend by Penzeys that was, unfortunately, not on my shelf—I just used a tablespoon of frozen basil from my fall harvest, and now I’d probably use two tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped. For the dessert version, I went with Penzeys Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon and their wonderful ground ginger—half a teaspoon each.)
- Eight tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- One-quarter cup plain Greek yogurt (I went with local Windcrest Dairy—my all-time favorite, which you probably know by now.)
- One-quarter cup ice water
- Two tablespoons lemon juice
- A couple tablespoons olive oil (my suggestion)
- One yellow onion, chopped (I used a medium-size onion, and I think shallots would also be very nice here instead.)
- Four to five cups spinach or kale leaves
- Two cups of mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (I used my friend Leo’s gray oysters, but shitakes would be great, too.)
- A splash of good sherry (my addition)
- One-half cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I tried to stay local with cheeses from Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, IL. They make awesome fresh mozzarella and Havarti.)
- One-half cup Havarti cheese, grated
- One-quarter cup plain Greek yogurt
- One teaspoon Northwoods seasoning (Another Penzys specialty blend; I used my own fresh herbs from the backyard—thyme and sage with salt and pepper to taste.)
- One-half teaspoon Sandwich Sprinkle (Again, a Penzys special spice mix; I sprinkled chili flakes on top for a little kick.)
- One egg white
- One quart pie cherries, pitted and macerated overnight in one-half cup coconut sugar
- Honey (Mine’s from the bees at John Accornero’s farm, just over in Troy, IL.)
- For the savory tart I used one egg yolk, slightly beaten and brushed across the crust before it went in the oven.
- For the dessert tart, I used a few pats of butter, cut in tiny cubes and dotted across the crust before the tart went in the oven. Add just a sprinkle of raw sugar for a little bling.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and basil. Add the butter and combine with your pastry blender (The original recipe adds the crust ingredients all at once.). Add the yogurt, water and lemon juice and mix gently until a soft dough forms. Cover and refrigerate. The only change you will make for the dessert tart is to replace the basil with the cinnamon and ginger. (Can be made ahead by a few hours, I would think.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- For the savory tart topping, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions with a little dash of salt and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they are soft and the onions are beginning to brown. Add the dash of sherry and stir; cook about five more minutes. Finally, add your greens and cook until they just wilt. Remove from heat and set aside. (The topping preparation step is skipped for the dessert tart.)
- For the savory tart, beat the cheeses, yogurt and herbs until smooth (hand mixer works great and quick.). The filling for the dessert tart needs to be prepared the night or, at least, the morning before you bake and serve the tart so that the cherries have time to macerate and sweeten. They make a lot of juice, so you will want to drain that off, reserving for another use—it’s very good in a smoothie!
- Remove the dough from the frig and roll into a circle, about one-eighth inch thick—does not need to be perfect. (Yeah!) Place on a baking sheet on a piece of parchment paper.
- For the savory tart, spread the filling mixture on top of the dough, leaving one-inch border. Place the topping ingredients directly on the filling. Fold the dough edges up and over, pinching any creases so they lie flat. Brush the crust with the egg yolk.
- For the dessert tart, mound the cherries in the center of your dough, leaving one-inch border. Fold the dough edges up and over, pinching any creases so that they lie flat. Dot with butter pieces and sprinkle with a little raw sugar. Drizzle the interior of the tart with honey for desired sweetness.
- For both tarts, bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden.
The prep time does not include the time it takes to macerate the cherries or chill the dough. We served the savory tart with a bright green salad and we served the cherry tart with French vanilla frozen custard from our local Annie's Frozen Custard Shop.
I hope you take a moment to read about the work going on in the Office of Sustainability at Ohio University. It gives hope in a world where much of the news is depressing or negative.
And if you are looking for more hopeful news regarding food waste, check out “How the Zero-Waste Movement is Changing the Way We Live,” from Delicious Living Magazine. Here’s how the story starts:
I was 21 and on a clandestine rescue mission. Objective: Get chocolate. Target: The dumpster next to a local chocolate factory. Come nightfall, my college friends and I snuck to the dumpster. Inside, we discovered mounds of dark chocolate glistening in the moonlight—massive slabs that appeared to be fresh off the conveyor belt, studded with dried raspberries and chopped almonds.
We shoved as much as we could carry into a bag and drove off. We tentatively took small bites, after carefully inspecting for rogue debris, and found that it was just as delicious as the brand’s pricey wrapped bars. Read more…
I’m very grateful to the New Hope Blogger Network for giving me access to share resources with you that are trustworthy and scientifically sound. I’ve been a Delicious Living Magazine reader for decades, always impressed by their unflagging commitment to local, independent health food retailers—one of the key places the green movement originally put down roots. Gotta love that…green movement…put down roots. Ok, blogger amusing herself here. Be well, local, healthy and brave this week. And let us know if you went rustic this week and what was in that tart!