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Saturday, August 20, 2016


Zucchini fatigue.
This time of year can get to people. I know some folks who absolutely hit the wall every summer when the zucchini goes wild and keeps rolling in. Year after year, without a shred of hindsight, my father planted rows and rows of zucchini in his enormous garden only to regret the eventual overload. When he let the late season zucchini grow into giant green footballs, we knew he'd found his wall. Even a few backyard plantings can test the bounds of patience for well meaning urban gardeners. With a few unsuccessful attempts under my belt trying to grow zucchini, my one little brush with zucchini fatigue occurred several years ago when a housemate of ours hammered Michael and me with a relentless summer long onslaught of zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, and zucchini everything. Although it took us a couple of years to recover from that unfortunate and wearisome zucchini-palooza, I never held it against the vegetable. In fact, I adore zucchini.  Luckily, for most of us, our local farmers tolerate the crazy to bring the overabundance to our farmers' markets until the bitter end. Grow it and I will come. For a different take on the seasonal powerhouse, I paired a recent haul with a few other summer favorites and took them all for a little spin. A literal spin.

Summer Vegetable Tart.

To dough or not to dough?
In lieu of a lovely cheese-flecked savory shortbread crust, I opted to run with a very basic unstructured pastry dough.

I pulsed 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black black pepper in a food processor. When combined, I added 8 tablespoons ( cut into pieces) cold unsalted butter and processed the mixture until it resembles course crumbs. With the machine running, I drizzled ice cold water one tablespoons at a time (about 3, total ) until it formed a loose ball. After transferring the dough to a floured board, I flattened it into a disc, wrapped in in plastic wrap, and slid it into the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

After rolling out the dough on a floured board until it was 1/4" thick, I carefully placed it into an 8" buttered spring form pan and nudged the dough into the pan. Without being too fussy, I maneuvered the dough to form a rustic base, docked it with a fork, covered it with parchment paper, filled the shell with beans, blind-baked the shell for 15 minutes  in a preheated 350 degree, and pulled it from the oven to cool.

I could have used a mondolin to achieve uniform shaved vegetable greatness,but I really didn't want
get all precious with the prep. Using a vegetable peeler, I shaved  2 Large carrots, 3 slender Boyle County Asian eggplants, 3 large Elmwood Stock Zucchini, and 3 large Elmwood yellow squash into feathery ribbons.

With most everything on deck, I whipped 8 ounces room temperature cream cheese, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and cracked black pepper until blended before spreading the creamed cheese over the bottom of the cooled tart shell.

There were multiple ways I could have wrapped the vegetables around each other to create the spiral. Basically, I twirled.  After forming a teeny rosette with a carrot ribbon, I  used the natural moisture from the vegetables to help them adhere  and simply twirled them them around each other, alternating the layers with zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and carrot ribbons. When it became a little loosey-goosey, I placed the spiral onto a plate and continued twirling until it was large enough too fit into the par-baked cream cheese covered tart shell. I carefully slid the vegetable ribbon spiral into the shell, tucked it into place, and gently nestled the vegetables into the flavored creamed cheese. After drizzling the top with extra virgin olive oil, I slid the tart into a pre-heated 350 oven for 35 minutes.

Before the delicate edges of the vegetables over caramelized (charred), I pulled the tart from the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes, released it from the spring form pan, and slid it onto a wire rack to cool.

When cooled to room temperature, I kissed the vegetables with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a dusting of flaked sea salt,

Give it a spin.
No walls.

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