archives : green tomato tart nov '09

Seems I've been changing hats at the speed of a whirling dervish, and feeling quite dizzy, I must confess. Add to that the euphoric atmosphere of the last week... What a week, what a new day, as the very recent song by Will.i.am declares. Watch the video...
Well, it's now finally time to touch down and send out a new newsletter. One thing I've been so busy doing is revamping my website. I hope you'll take moment and walk through the new layout and pages. By the end of the year I'm hoping to add a series of group classes that will start around springtime in Paris, the Loire Valley and perhaps even in Torino, Italy.
Now on to food... I realize the season's all but over and most green tomatoes have been plucked off the vine. I ran out last week to grab up the last of the harvest from Gilles Flahaut's vegetable stand at the Marché d'Aligre in Paris's 12th arrondissement so I could cook up this savory tart recipe I came up with last year, photograph it, and send it all your way. If you can find no more green tomatoes at your marketplace (I apologize for not getting this to you sooner), I guess you'll have to put the recipe away 'til next year.
There's something so intriguing about the tart, citrus flavor of green tomatoes roasted in a crumbly, buttery pie dough and served garnished with a fresh-mint-infused extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped roasted hazelnuts. That burst of fresh mint with the zingy flavor of the green tomatoes makes for a surprisingly scrumptious savory voyage. I keep the tomatoes undressed - no cheese, no eggs, no milk - just wearing a thin veil of extra-virgin olive oil. Since green tomatoes cook quite rapidly, to achieve the crunchy brown aspect, I cook the tart at a pretty high temperature on the upper oven grate. I hope you'll try out my invention out and let me know what you think. Quite nice to dig into with a 2006 Chinon Clos Guillot from Bernard Baudry, a fresh, pure expression of the Cabernet Franc grape.
An important note: Tomatoes should never be put in the refrigerator, as that almost instantly destroys the flavor. As Russ Parsons stresses in his wonderfully informative book How to Pick a Peach : "Cold temperatures wreak havoc with tomato flavor. Temperatures below 60 degrees reduce the aroma-creating volatiles in the fruit." Now we know why they're a summer fruit! Just keep them in a cool place out of direct sun. Being a climacteric fruit, they continue to ripen after being picked - and are more than often picked "mature" green: at the moment the gel around the seeds begins to soften. If you want them to ripen more rapidly, place them in a closed brown bag, away from direct light; the ethylene gas produced by tomatoes to promote ripening will become more concentrated and speed up the process.
And I'll leave you with this inspiring video and NY Times article about the urban farmer Will Allen from Milwaukee and his Growing Power project.


200 gr unbleached white flour
100 gr cold butter
Generous pinch unrefined sea salt

800 gr (generous 1 ¾ lbs) green tomatoes
3-4 tBsp extra-virgin olive oil
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Mint olive oil:
7-8 tBsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tBsp coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
A couple handfuls of hazel nuts, roasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper

— Wash mint leaves, dry well, the coarsely chop. Add to 7-8 tBsp olive oil, along with a generous pinch of sea salt. Set in a very warm place for 3 - 4 hours (on an oven pilot or near a low flame, for example) or slightly warm the oil over low heat and pour over the mint. Let stand for 1 - 2 hours to infuse.
You can also make the mint oil the night before and set in a warm place to infuse.
— Roast hazelnuts in oven preheated to 300 ˚F 0 - 15 minutes, until skins are blistering and that heavenly scent of roasted hazelnuts begins to seep into the kitchen. Roll up in a towel and let steam for 5 minutes then rub the nuts in the towel to remove the loose skins. (Don't fret over the skin that doesn't come off).
— Sift flour into a large bowl. Make a hole in the middle, add butter cut into pieces and salt. Mix together, rubbing the flour and butter between your hands until the mixture becomes granular. Add 2 - 4 tBsp cold water (depending on the freshness of the flour and the humidity outside) and mix lightly with a fork from the outer edge of the bowl inward until mixture begins to come together. Add a bit more water if necessary until you can easily gather the mixture into a ball. Place in a covered bowl and set in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
(I prefer to let the dough sit for an hour on the counter if it’s not too hot outside).
— If you’ve put the dough in the refrigerator remove it. Preheat the oven to 425 ˚ F
— Knead the dough for ½ minute then roll it out on a floured surface to fit a 9-inch pie dish. Line the pie dish and crimp the edges.
— Cut the green tomatoes into ¼-inch rounds. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, a generous pinch of unrefined sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. (Best to do this just before arranging them in the pie dish so the juices remain in the tomatoes and not at the bottom of the bowl). Arrange the tomatoes in a circular pattern, two layers thick. Cook in oven for approx 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve garnished with a tablespoon of the mint olive oil and a sprinkling of roasted hazelnuts.

Previous CONSCIOUS PALATE newsletters can be found on my website.

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