Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Sesame Crust

After a week of gorging on my mom’s amazing beef stew, I’ve gone back to my non-protein ways.

Sorry, Husband.

(Veggie) tarts are just so GOOD.  And sometimes, they’re even good for you.  Or at least not terrible.

Inspiration by Martha Stewart…and my friend Kate.


Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Crust

for the crust

  • a little less than 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little more
  • about 1/3 cup water, plus a little more

for the filling

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • about a cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked together
  • 1 can corn kernels, rinsed (Note: this would be SO much better with fresh corn, but sadly, we’re not quite to that season yet!)
  • 1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In  medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, & sesame seeds; slowly pour in the water and olive, forming a large ball.  You may need to add a touch more water or olive oil to help it stick together.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and press into an 8 or 9 inch pie shell.  Prick all over with a fork and then bake for about 10 minutes; remove and cover the crusts, so they don’t burn.  Reduce the heat to about 375 and bake another 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a saute pan, add onion and shallot.  Add salt, pepper and crushed reds, and cook down – until golden and/or translucent.  Finally, add the corn and just give the whole thing a quick toss.
  4. When the crust is done pre-baking, sprinkle the bottom with a health layer of Parmesan cheese.  Add the onion/shallot/corn mixture, then top with the tomatoes.  Season with a little salt and pepper, lightly pour the egg mixture over it (this just helps it to stick together), and add the rest of the Parmesan to the top.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees; serve with a little Parsley and a light side salad.  Think about how awesome this will taste when you make it with New Jersey corn, straight from the roadside stand.

IMG_3231The Verdict:

The crust does take a little getting used to – it’s “healthy,” after all, and the taste of the olive oil shines through.  As with any dish, the fresher the veggies, the tastier it’ll be.  Still, it’s been a while since I joined the ladies (and a few good gentlemen) over at Fiesta Friday, but I think this is good enough to bring.  What’s more fiesta-y than corn?


Recipe Redux: Martha’s Pasta with Sausage and Fennel

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe from Martha ever since my chef-alicious sister posted it during her guest blog.  Sausage + fennel = one happy stomach.

prep work requires wine.
prep work requires wine.

The ingredients and the instructions for Rigatoni (well, Farfalle) with Sausage and Fennel are all on Kathryn’s post.  A few editorial comments:

  • Use less pasta (maybe half a box, especially if you’re only serving for two people), more fennel (the full bulb) and more carrots (one or two more).  The veggies get a bit lost in the pound of pasta.
  • Add a clove or two of minced garlic while you’re browning the sausage, and season the mixture with black pepper.
  • In fact, while you’re seasoning the sausage, a handful of crushed reds probably wouldn’t hurt (if you’re into that kind of thing).
  • While the pasta cools, tossing it with arugula will up the healthy quotient and give it a nice peppery taste.
well done, martha!
well done, martha!

The Verdict:

With a few tweaks (sorry, Martha), this is really, really good.  Well worth your while and your wine.

More Martha: Super Simple Garlic-Roasted Chicken and Sauteed Broccolini

Back-to-back Martha nights.  Flipping through (one of her many) cookbooks this past weekend, I was drawn to a recipe so simple, so straightforward, I was surprised Martha bothered to devote two whole pages (granted, one is a full-blown, gorgeous picture) to it.  Could making tasty chicken be as simple as sticking it in the oven?  Martha: challenge accepted.

Super Simple Garlic-roasted Chicken Breasts

  • olive oil
  • 4 heads garlic
  • fresh rosemary (or oregano, or thyme, or whatever fresh herb you have)
  • 2 chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry (I used skinless and boneless; this would probably be way better with both skin and bone intact)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the tops off from the garlic heads and reserve them.  Arrange the tops, cut sides down, in the center of a baking dish.  Lay the herbs over the garlic, place the chicken over the herbs, and put another sprig of herbs over the chicken.
  2. Arrange the reserved bottoms next to the chicken in the pan.  Drizzle the chicken and the garlic with olive oil.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the chicken for 25 minutes or so, or until cooked through.  If you’re using skin-on breasts, continue roasting until the skin is browned and juices start to run clear – you’ll want to save the juice to drizzle over the top at the end.

Sauteed Broccolini with Lemon and Pine Nuts

  • 1 bunch broccolini (or broccoli, or broccoli rabe), ends trimmed
  • handful pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • optional: parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the broccolini for about a minute, or until bright green.  Drain.
  2. Heat a medium saute pan over low-medium heat and toast the pine nuts until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the pan.
  3. Add olive oil and heat through.  Add the broccolini; toss with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Cook about 3-5 minutes, until heated through but still crunchy.
  4. Toss the broccolini with pine nuts, lemon juice and parmesan cheese, if you so choose.
  5. Serve the chicken and broccolini with crusty bread – I drizzled a loaf with olive oil and rubbed the extra roasted garlic and heated it through.
not nearly as pretty as martha's picture, but it'll have to do.
not nearly as pretty as martha’s picture, but it’ll have to do.

The Verdict:

As an answer to the challenge, Martha, this was tasty, but I think you (and I) can do better.  Given I used skinless, boneless breasts, this would have been better with a sauce.  I thought about making one with white wine, the lemon juice and a little bit of butter, but somehow execution escaped me.  Luckily, both the Husband and I actually like chicken breast on the drier side (proof that there’s someone out there for everyone!).  I also feel the garlic went a bit wasted (just stuck there in the little garlic head packets?)- good thing roasted garlic is delicious on its own.  Unfortunately, the Husband likes that a little less than I do…

Ri[ff]ing Off Martha: Hearty, Healthy Winter Vegetable Soup

While most of my kitchen gadgets bow down to Ina, I reserve a few for queen Martha.  Tonight, after a week full of (quite literally) stuffing ourselves with stuffing, pie, casserole, ice cream, turkey, and more pie,  I was ready for something a little more lenient on the arteries.  I’m also feeling a bit run-down, and with a lot going on at work this week, I can’t quite afford to succumb to a cold.  Tonight, inspiration by Martha, substitution by Varina (basically, whatever we had on hand).

Hearty, Healthy Winter Vegetable Soup

  • olive oil
  • 4 leeks (white and green parts only), thoroughly washed, halved lengthwise and then sliced thinly
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and loosely chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (again, highly recommend the pre-cut box at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 4-5 stalks baby bok choy
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • 1 can Northern White beans, rinsed and drained
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 stalks fresh rosemary (or whatever fresh herbs you have)
  • salt, pepper
  1. Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Cook leeks, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, a good handful of red pepper flakes, and a good dash of salt for about 5-8 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked down and translucent.
  2. Add stock and water.  Mix through and bring to a boil (will take a few minutes).
  3. Add squash and potatoes, mix through, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes and squash are tender.
  4. Stir in bok choy, spinach, and beans; bring back to a boil.  Add the lemon juice and rosemary and cook a few more minutes.
  5. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper and serve with crusty bread.
veggies to the rescue
veggies to the rescue
straight from the oven
straight from the oven

(Cutting board a gift of the gifted Taylor Mardis Katz of Free Verse Farm.)

The Verdict:

The Husband put it best: “Just what the doctor ordered.”  Only we’re hoping for no doctors around here.  This is a soup for the rotation – really, it just gives me confidence that if you throw all good ingredients into a pot, you’ll get a good meal on your plate (or bowl).  Bonus: plenty of leftovers for the week ahead.

The Last Supper: Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel

Friday night went exactly as scheduled except we added my husband’s parents into the mix, which is probably a very good thing because this pasta dish is definitely meant for four people, not just two. My husband helmed the stove on this evening and put together a damn good dinner if I do say so myself, courtesy of our good friend Martha:

Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel:

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced, plus fronds, for serving
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving
  • 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about 3/4 cup), plus more for serving
  • Arugula, for serving (we skipped this and just had a side salad)


  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and sausage; cook, breaking into pieces, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat; reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, fennel, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Add pasta, pasta water, lemon zest and juice, cheese, and sausage. Simmer, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand to thicken, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with oil. Serve with fennel fronds, lemon wedges, cheese, and arugula, if you’d like.

The Verdict:

(Oops, I’ve realized I’ve skipped this step on all my other posts.) Delish! The lemon made the pasta bright and zesty while the chicken broth flavor balanced it out. The fennel was an interesting taste and the fronds look beautiful on the dish, elevating this from a simple pasta dinner.

This is my last guest post as my lovely sister will be returning home from her honeymoon with plenty of stories (and meals!) to share. Until we meet – and eat – again!