Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Savory Summer Tart

This is my view most days from my cutting board. Meet Cricket, my vacuum, my perpetual kitchen companion, and the one who comes running when she hears me flip-flop my way into the kitchen. Always eager to snap up rogue hunks of cheese (or better yet, meat) that may go falling in her direction, she was quite disappointed by tonight's offerings of crook-neck squash and parsley. In fact, she left quite a mess, littered all about the floor. Doesn't she know she has a job to do? What I ought to do is teach her how to use a camera, so she could be even more helpful in the kitchen! That way, I could blog more often.....

Speaking of cameras, when I went to grab mine for this much overdue blog post, I realized it was in the back of the car (which was at baseball practice). Not to be deterred, I decided to use what I had around, thus creating a multi-media extravaganza (in my own mind??). I used my eight-year-old's Nikon CoolPix camera (set on the food setting) for the first photos of tonight's efforts.....which are not great, but not horrible either. They illustrate the gorgeous (if not slightly blurry) herbal slurry, which is made with parsley, thyme, oregano, garlic, and olive oil, that is spread on lightly buttered sheets of phyllo dough--the first step in what is to become the most amazing squash tart ever. Does that even sound appealing? It should, because it's fantastic!

Then her camera runs! out! of! batteries! Fortunately, after a swig of my martini, I remember that I also have an iphone, which is not only super cool for updating my Facebook status, but also handy for taking photos. So, the following photos, from my iphone, illustrate me sprinkling the summer squash (that were spread out on top of the herb paste) with feta cheese, pitted kalamata olives, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Finally order is restored to the universe once again, and by the time the tart is out of the oven, my beloved SLR has been returned to me by my baseball boys! See how rich the color is? How crisp and golden the crust looks? How the cheese has toasted ever so slightly and how the salty black olives have released some of their briny juice onto the squash underneath? It looks pretty, but it tastes even better. It was a complete meal...well, that and some of the sweet-tart rhubarb wine we purchased last summer at the Brattleboro Farmers' Market. It's definitely a recipe that we will revisit sometime over the summer, especially when my own garden starts producing these succulent summer squashes. I hope you do too.

Summer Squash, Olive and Feta Tart

adapted from Martha Stewart

This dish makes a wonderful main course when served with a salad, or cut it into smaller squares and serve it as an appetizer. Using a mandoline slicer to cut the squash really speeds up preparation time, but a sharp knife does the job too. Martha's version doesn't call for cheese, but I think it adds a rich,salty edge to the otherwise mild squash.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 main course servings


3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small zuchini, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 sheets phyllo dough (each 12 by 17 inches), thawed if frozen
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Unroll the phyllo dough on the counter, count out six sheets, and cover them with a clean, damp cloth. Re-roll the remaining dough, wrap with plastic and refrigerate or re-freeze. Brush a large baking sheet with butter, then carefully lay down one sheet of phyllo. Brush it lightly with the melted butter, top it with another sheet and brush it lightly with butter. Continue in this way until all the phyllo is stacked together on the baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the parsley, oregano, thyme, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and the olive oil. Spoon the mixture over the phyllo dough, leaving a 1 inch border all around.

4. Spread the squash slices evenly over that, again leaving a border. Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle over the olives and the feta cheese and another pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until edges are crisp and the squash is tender. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

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