April skies are in your eyes, but darling don’t be blue. Don’t cry. Oh honey please don’t be that way. Clouds in the sky should never make you feel that way. The rain will bring the violets of May. Tears are in vain. So honey please don’t be that way.
Lyrics to jazz standard “Don’t be that way” by Benny Goodman
This week’s weather has got me putting on extra cloths, taking them back off within 10 minutes of being outside, missing my umbrella, not knowing what to do with it when I do bring it, using my sunglasses as a shield against relentless hail that disappears just as abruptly as it came and freezing my scarlet red painted toe nails of my sandal adorned feet eventhough the sun is shining as brightly as a giant disco ball in the sky. It reminded me of the above quoted jazz song so beautifully interpretated by my Jazz heroes Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Spring is dying to burst but April weather can go anywhere from heatwave to snow storm on the same day. So figuring out what I was gonna eat has been an equally great challenge.
I wanted something satisfying but still light enough to give me that springy feeling I so desperately long for. On the one hand I felt like baking cause at a certain point it started to rain so hard, and when it rains I can’t resist a delicious baked sweet loaf. But on the other hand that would have me bound to the kitchen stove for longer than it would take the rain storm to pass. Also I was craving savory more than sweet plus I needed to finish up a whole lot of stuff I had left from my workshop on salads this past sunday. Notice that my food mood was as indecisive as the weather……. Big sigh!
I knew there was one sure fire way to get my creative juices flowing in the right (read one!) direction. I needed my cookbooks. I don’t think I have mentioned my cookbooks before, have I? Well, I should have because I love them to pieces. I have an ever increasing collection consisting of over a 100 books. How I manage to fit them all into my tiny appartment (I don’t by the way, but just pretend not to notice…) is a miracle. My sister has told me time and time again that I could have long bought a house with the money I spent on cookbooks. I agree. But who needs a house when you can have chocolate courgette cake, broccoli pizza or tom kha kai to stare at all day? You know how people ask you what is the one thing you would want to save from your house in case of fire? Well in my my case it’s one hundred things! Yep, good luck on that one, Danielle! But seriously I adore all my cookbooks. I know you think to yourself who could possibly need 100 plus cookbooks? Well, truth be told I really don’t need all of them. But honestly, neither did Carrie on Sex and the city need all her designer shoes. They are just so much fun to have and an endless source of inspiration.
And so it was that on this particularly instable day I found my footing again by flipping through one of my love babies. This time it was the beautifully designed book ” Small plates & sweet treats” by Aran Goyoaga that put my head back straight. Aran has a famous food blog called “Cannelle et vanille” where she shares her family’s journey to gluten free eating. She used to be a pastry chef and used to baking and eating huge quantities of white wheat flour. After suffering from a series of debilitating health issues she was finally diagnosed with gluten intolerance and after changing her eating habits drastically all her symptoms dissappeared. She went on to dedicate herself to sharing her new gained knowledge on delicious gluten free eating with the world and as they say ” The rest is history.” Besides creating really delicious gluten free food Aran is a really gifted photographer and her pictures are fresh, somewhat girly and so so inviting. Whatever season she photographs in somehow her photos always remind me of spring. They all seem to have this happy, shiny and promising quality to them. And so on this wanna be spring day it was to Aran that I turned. And was rewarded greatly I must say.
I found this fantastic recipe of a gluten free savory tart with a quinoa, zucchini and goat cheese filling. Since I had all ingredients in my fridge, plus a whole bunch of other spring veggies, I decided to adjust it a bit and finished with a tart that had spring written all over it and tasted super duper delicious as well. I know when you read the ingredients list you will thing to yourself that there is a whole lot of veggies in there. That was just because I happened to have them in my fridge and wanted to finish them. Aran only uses zucchini and spring onion as veggies in her version. I must say that all that green on my plate made me a very very happy chappy. The gluten free crust is as crunchy as any traditional short pastry crust but way more nutritious and interesting using olive oil instead of butter. I did not have quinoa flour but just made my own by blitzing the required amount in a spice blender. I did the same for the amaranth flour. Both flours came out perfectly. The addition of quinoa (I used cooked black quinoa, cause that’s what I had on hand) in the tart filling makes it even more satisfying and really a meal in itself. I served it with a greener than green side salad with just a dash of pink from the pink peppercorns and a dressing made from the juice of the lemon you grate (I always hate wasting those lemons that you only need the rind of in a recipe), olive oil, maple syrup and wasabi for extra greeness.
Now, I won’t lie to you and say that this recipe is easy. It’s not. You have to follow the instructions quite meticulously to get the crust just right. This involves leaving it to rest in the fridge. Baking it blind before filling it and letting it rest again (Ps: I skipped the blind baking part cause I was lazy and they came out fine anyway). Meanwhile, if you don’t have precooked and chopped veggies lying around like I did, you also have to chop, dice and cook your vegetables for the filling. Plus cook the quinoa as well. But he, when it’s raining and hailing outside like there is no tomorrow you don’t have anything better to do right?? Plus, trust me. It is all worth it in the end.
One word of advice. If you have it do use a loose bottomed spring form with an edged rim. That makes it so much easier to get the tart out in one piece and it looks really pretty. I used my mini ones (the best cooking related buy of this year so far!) and made 6 mini tarts of 6 cm in diameter and one bigger one of 15 cm. But Aran says in her recipe that the quantity is enough for one tart pan of 22 c
This recipe is best for Pitta because I used so many bitter and astringent green veggies and replaced the heavy cream Aran uses with thick coconut cream making it more cooling for Pitta. Fennel also has a cooling effect on Pitta. And goat cheese is always a better choice for all three types but especially for Pitta because it is dryer and more astringent than cheese made from cow’s milk. Kapha can have this on occasion and leave out the cheese all together for a lighter bite. Vata can make the crust with melted ghee instead of the olive oil to add some grease. And they can replace the cooked quinoa in the filling with basmati rice, and use cow’s milk cream instead of coconut cream. Finally they could use some sweeter veggies such as diced sweet potato or pumpkin for the filling instead of the spinach.
quinoa and olive oil crust
- 70 grams quinoa flour (you can make this yourself by grinding quinoa seeds in a spice grinder of flour mill)
- 70 gram superfine brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
- 35 grams almond flour
- 30 grams amaranth flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 60 ml olive oil
- 100 ml ice cold water
Green monster filling
- 120 grams cooked (black) quinoa from 50 gram raw
- 1,5 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 garlic clove minced finely
- 1 spring onion in rings
- 1 medium zucchini grated
- 1 small fennel grated
- few leaves of watercress roughly chopped
- 3 eggs
- 60 grams thick coconut cream
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- freshly ground black pepper
- 100 grams spinach wilted in just a dash of olive oil
- 6 to 8 green asparagus
- 40 grams crumbled goat cheese
For the dough mix the first 6 ingredients in a food processor to combine. Add the olive oil and the water. Pulse until dough comes toghether. Transfer dough to a work surface and knead just a couple of times. Press into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. After the dough has rested take it out of the fridge and flour you work surface with some rice flour. Roll out the dough to fit your spring form(s) and place gently in the form(s). No need to grease the pans. Prick the bottom of the dough a couple of times with a fork. Leave to rest again for 30 minutes. Now, if you want to be a good girl (or boy) cover the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake like this for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and bake for another 10 minutes. If, like me, you want to be a bad girl just bake the crust without the paper and weights for a bit less time depending on the size of your forms. I baked the small forms for 20 minutes and the medium sized one for 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before adding the filling.
Meanwhile prepare the filling by frying the garlic and spring onion in the heated ghee till translucent. Don’t let them colour. Now add the shredded zucchini and fennel. Cook until just done but also let them keep their colour. Add 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Turn off the heat and mix in the watercress. Let cool for 5 minutes before mixing in the coconut and egg custard. (see below)
In a separate bowl mix the eggs with the coconut cream, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the lemon zest and some more black pepper. Now mix in the zucchini, fennel and watercress mixture.
Start filling the tart cases by putting some wilted spinach in the bottom, followed by some quinoa. Gently pour in the zucchini custard till the cases are farely full. Garnish with green asparagus and crumbled goat cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your tart pans. I baked the small ones for 20 minutes and the medium sized one for 25.