Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh, yeah. It's summah time.

Good morning, America! Just awoke from my weeklong blog coma-- That was fun! 

Anywho, it's really hot out today. Too hot for sarcasm. So hot, in fact, that I don't even remember if my large Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee ever even came with ice cubes. I swear my sweat is sweating. 

(FYI I'm writing this on Inferno Thursday. With luck, all the Thank You notes we send God on Fridays will bring some good karma in the form of a cool ocean breeze.)

And alas, it has. 

Photo credit: Amanda Johnson
Every year, there are a few familiar signs that assure me, it's officially summer

You're probably thinking, "Yeah, Einstein. It's like 100ºF."

I know that. But if you live in New England, it's never that simple. Cut to this weekend's forecast...

My telltale sign that summer is here to stay is that first beach day. It doesn't matter if the next few days barely breach 60ºF; once I pull my dusty beach chair from its basement dwelling, there's no turning back. 

Other signs? The first sunburn; the night when you can sit outside in your jorts, afflicted by bug bites rather than goosebumps; when you accept that the sand in your hair isn't coming out-- ever; when you also accept that the sand in your sheets isn't coming out, ever; when seeing your high school compadres makes you feel like the oldest kids on the block; and when strawberries start to actually taste like strawberries.  

I recently bought a carton of local MA strawberries. They were adorable, small and perfectly juicy and red. But what to make! There were so many options-- scones, crumbles, cheesecake? Ah! After perusing dozens and dozens of recipes where strawberries were star, I resolved to make a simple summer tart.  

This sweet confection is intended to highlight a strawberry's natural flavor. From here on out, ditch the mass-produced produce. You really don't know what you're missing until you've tasted strobbs straight from your neighbor's farmstand. 

Photo credit: Amanda Johnson

Vegan (and Gluten-free!) Strawberry Almond Tart
Adapted from C'est La Vegan
Makes 8 servings

[1] cup raw almonds, finely ground in a food processor 
[1/3] cup shredded unsweetened coconut
[1] tsp salt**
[1] tbsp chia meal (or other egg replacement)
[2/3] cup raw sugar, like sucanat
[3] tbsp coconut oil
[1] tsp almond extract
[1/2] cup garbanzo flour
[2 1/2] cups fresh strawberries
crushed pistachios

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a tart shell with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine half of the sucanat, ground almonds, shredded coconut, and salt. 

In a separate small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon ground chia (create chia "meal" in a coffee or spice grinder) with 3 tablespoons of water until it's about the consistency of paste. Wow, what a way to start off a recipe. It gets better...

Using an electric mixer, beat coconut oil and 3 tablespoons of sucanat on medium speed until it's fluffy. 

Lower the speed, then add the chia egg and almond extract. Slowly add in the garbanzo flour. 

Raise the speed back to medium and add in the dry ingredients (almond, coconut, salt). I separated the mixture into 2 or 3 batches, making sure that everything was well combined after each addition. 

Mix in chocolate chips for a dangerously addictive dough!
Once the mixture forms a thick dough, turn off the mixer and form into a ball. Refrigerate dough while you prep the strawberries. 

Spread the dough into the tart pan so that it forms an even crust. 

Clean the edges of the tart with a sharp knife and reserve any extra dough in your freezer for later!

Fill the tart pan will your berries and bake for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the remaining sucanat over the tart and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the sugar has formed a glaze.

Allow to cool slightly and top with crushed pistachios and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

**Notes: Although the crust was good, I think prebaking it for 5-10 minutes would make it even better. Just be sure to cover the edges with tinfoil so that they don't burn. If you like a thicker filling, toss your strawberries in a teaspoon or two of corn starch first (this will thicken the juices as they cook). I would also consider reducing the salt in this recipe to 1/2 teaspoon! 

Photo credit: Amanda Johnson

You've been waiting all year for these berries-- Now go get 'em!


Eftychia said...

That tart looks delicious. I like strawberies so much!!

Taryn said...

Eftychia-- it was great! Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits :)