Thursday, November 10, 2005


Harvest Tart

I have a cookbook by a woman named Crescent Dragonwagon. Can we just pause right here so I can proclaim how much I adore that she named herself that? Adore it. Could she be cooler? Doubtful. I mean let's face it, you have to have personality in spades to pull off a sparkling moniker like that, so I know, I just know, she is my people.

Who better to talk to about food than someone who is bubbling over with good vibes? Vibes that radiate right off of the pages. The cookbook I am referring to is her award winning tome, The Passionate Vegetarian. Again, points for Ms. Dragonwagon. To be passionate is to express strong emotions, or, in my context, really super-dig something. And we can all feel that can we not? Let's all be passionate today, shall we?

My point to all of this is that a few weeks ago I was flipping through her book, reveling in the prose and passion, inspired by the titles of exotic and instantly recognizable fare, when I saw something that sounded new and different. It was a sort of autumnal tart, using lots (seriously, the most ingredients I have ever put into anything barring bouilliabaisse. Mmm. Bouilliabaisse.) of interesting techniques and combinations I would not have normally concocted. I suspect that is why I read cookbooks in the first knock myself out of the routine of adding mint/lemon-zest/olives/profound amounts of salt to every dish I make. Is that what you do too?

Now, because I found her recipe to be a touch time consuming, I have taken the liberty of altering it, (drastically, I admit) but the spirit remains, and the dish does not. We ate it all. In one sitting. It was glorious. All the various textures came together perfectly. Crumbly, buttery crust, highly seasoned vegetables and the smooth pumpkin topping to balance it all. Simply sensational. It is still (I fear I must confess) a bit time consumming, but obviously, well worth the effort. Try it, and enjoy.

2 medium zucchini diced
1 small onion, diced
3/4 cup corn (hey man, frozen corn rocks)
1 poblano chile, diced
olive oil
1/2 cup cubed tofu (optional, of course)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon each smoky paprika, cumin and cardamom
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup diced tomato
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup pumpkin puree
pinch of nutmeg
salt and black pepper
large pinch cayenne powder
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon corn starch combined with
1 tablespoon cold water

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a large bowl combine the melted butter with the bread crumbs, flour and water. (Add some salt if you feel like it too.)Mix to combine. It will still be crumbly. Press this mix evenly into a 10 inch, removable-bottom tart pan that is lightly coated with oil. (I used some of the oil from my roasted garlic for this) Bake at 400F for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Saute the zucchini over high heat in a teaspoon of the olive oil, stirring often (you are trying to release most of the moisture, more than trying to brown it) add the onions, cover and continue to sweat* for three minutes. Remove the lid, and add the corn, chile, tofu, garlic, spices, parsley and tomato. Continue to cook while stirring until softened, about 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. When slightly cooled, add the cornstarch slurry (mixture of equal parts cornstarch and cold - it must be cold - water) and mix.

Mix together the pumpkin puree, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, cayenne, milk and egg. Set aside

Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

When everything is a little cooler, pour into the tart shell, and top with an even layer of the pumpkin.

Bake the tart for 45-55 minutes or until the top is just starting to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Slice and serve.

Makes eight servings

Excellent additions: Roast chicken, bell peppers, steamed carrots or cauliflower or any other squash.


Sweat - A technique by which vegetables, are cooked in a covered pan with a small amount of fat. With this method, the ingredients soften without browning, and cook in their own juices.

At Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva, North Carolina, drink and snack machines in the school hallways and lounges bring in $8,000 to $12,000 a year, said principal Alex Bell. Money from those machines generates general school funds, which can go toward any school need. According to 2004 statistics, 47 percent of children in Jackson County where Smoky Mountain High School is, are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Overweight is defined as 10 percent above ideal body weight. - Smoky Mountain News

There are about 23,000 restaurants in New York City

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Oh, I like that. This sounds really good! I think I'll try it - but probably without the pumpkin topping since the idea of pureeing pumpkin is just a little too much work for something I'm not so fond of anyway :) But for the meat-eater in me, maybe I'll top it with strips of chicken and bacon.. now there's an idea.
Thanks Anne. I liked it a lot. I'm guessing canned/jarred pumpkin puree isnt exactly a Swedish market staple is it...LOL. Mashed potatoes would work too of course...and the bacon and chicken idea sounds perfect. And perfectly delicious!
tofu! you know i love tofu... :)
Crescent Dragonwagon--her Soup and Bread is the best cookbook going!. Her Pea Soup Adelle and Skillet Cornbread bring oohs and aahs everytime I serve them. I shall have to try out this new book.
My - this does sound delicious Rachael! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Hopefully I'll get a chance to try it soon.
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