I’m standing in the kitchen in my bare feet and a t-shirt, looking out the window. My sense of place and time fade with the fuzzy and fading horizon. I haven’t been able to open the windows or go outside for two days. When I do go outside the air is heavy with smoke; oppressive. My chest tightens, my throat burns, and my heart aches. Is this how it’s going to be from now on? I’m overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness, frustration, resentment, shame, and sadness. Nature is speaking through the flames, begging us to pay attention, to care, and to change. I’m listening. Are you? Maybe it’s too late, maybe not, but I refuse to live the rest of my life on this precious planet with apathy. My choices matter. Our choices matter. Now, more than ever, we must choose wisely my friends.
What we choose to eat today, shapes the world we inhabit tomorrow. So, during the month of September I’ll be reconnecting with what sustainability means to me by only eating food that has been grown and produced within a 200 mile radius. My friend Andrea who owns and operates a small organic farm here in the Columbia Gorge came up with the idea for #localthirty and I’m excited to be joining in (although due to some travel plans at the end of the month my local 30 will be more like a local 20). I’m eager to support more of our local farmers and producers, to rediscover what the intersection of food and place looks like, and to step back and reevaluate the environmental impact of the ingredients I use daily. I’ll be eliminating things like almonds and coconut milk and finding new sources for basic staples like beans, grains, and salt. I’ll be including a handful of non-local items or “cheats” in my diet just to keep myself sane. For me, this process is about connecting with the network of farmers and producers in my area, learning about their work, and examining how the food I eat gets to my table. It’s also about noticing the food I take for granted and asking myself if there’s a more sustainable alternative. As always, my health will be a factor in what I choose to eat, but I’ll also consider ecological impact, carbon emissions, packaging waste, and social responsibility among other things by sourcing organic ingredients and focusing on products I can get from local retailers and in bulk. I’d love to have you join me in whatever capacity works for you. That might mean eating one meal a week that’s entirely local, choosing one ingredient to #swaplocal, doing the local 15, or joining in for the whole shebang. You can learn more about the project and find tips and resources from Andrea here. And if you’re interested I’d be happy to share my list of local producers with you as well. Just let me know…
This recipe was developed, styled, and photographed in collaboration with my dear friend Eva. Eva is an incredibly talented photographer, a prolific gardener, and an all around wonderful human. She also grows the most amazing tomatoes I’ve ever seen. Check out her post HERE and enjoy!
*Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and tag photos of my recipes #tendingthetable.
Heirloom Tomato Tart with Cashew Ricotta and Zaatar
Makes 1 9-inch tart
FOR THE FILLING
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1/2 teaspoon quality balsamic vinegar
1 1/3 cup cashew ricotta (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon flake kosher sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pasture raised egg
3/4 pound to 1 pound heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon zaatar
fresh basil leaves and flaky sea salt to garnish
FOR THE CRUST
2 cups sifted spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon flake kosher sea salt
2/3 cup ghee
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water
FOR THE FILLING
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring every 5 minutes, until the onions have softened and are golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the balsamic, and set aside to cool.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cashew ricotta, salt, garlic powder, egg, and caramelized onions. Stir to combine and set aside.
FOR THE CRUST
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Measure the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the ghee in a few heaping spoonfuls and toss to coat in flour. Working quickly, massage the ghee into the flour with your fingers until the dough resembles coarse sand. Gradually add the ice water until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disc, cover, and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Once chilled, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough and transfer to a 9-inch by 1-inch tart pan. Trim the edges, discarding any excess dough.
TO ASSEMBLE THE TART
Spread the ricotta mixture into the pan. Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer over the filling. Brush the top of the tart with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the zaatar. Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is completely cooked, and the tomato slices on top have wrinkled slightly, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before garnishing, slicing, and serving.
Makes 1 1/3 cups
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
4 cups filtered water
Add the soaked cashews to the container of a high-speed blender with the filtered water and blend on high for 30-60 seconds. Strain through a nut milk bag or fine mesh sieve set over a bowl, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Pour the cashew milk into a jar and refrigerate for later.
Transfer the pulp to a bowl to use immediately or store in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days.