I don’t know about you, but now’s about the time when I get a major hankering for tomatoes. I’ve held out most of the winter and spring, but now that we’ve had flashes of warm weather I’m craving the tang of those ripe fruits.
The problem, of course, is that my desires aren’t exactly lining up with nature. As with so much produce, I much prefer in-season, local tomatoes over the from-far-away ones I’m seeing in grocery stores now. But even those from nearby that are just starting to show up in farmers markets are the hothouse variety and not nearly as flavorful as those we’ll see in July, August and beyond. The little tomato plants in my garden, meanwhile, were finally starting to make some progress before we got a few days of cold rain, which seemed to make them cower.
To the rescue, at least in my kitchen: canned tomatoes, once again. This time, rather than stew them for a pasta sauce or soup, I jumped at the suggestion in “The Best of Rose Elliot” (Hamlyn, 2014) to turn them into a tart. It’s a simple idea, with a couple of nice twists: cumin seed in the crust and eggs nestled into the filling, in the style of that North African dish I love, shakshuka.
Turns out the tart is as variable as the weather. I made it when there was a damp chill in the air, and the meal was warm and hearty and perfect. The next day, the sun came out, my tomato plants started to look alive again, and the tart seemed refreshing — and almost summery — when I ate a slice of it cold.
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