By the time you read this we will be on the plane floating above the big blue on our way to Italy. Two weeks of Tuscana bliss spent with the ones I love. The scenery, the accents, the slower pace of life, the rolling hills draped with cypress trees.....oh this will be a welcomed change.
In the small town of Moncioni my parents make haste preparring for our arrival. I have been informed that 10 pounds of almond flour have been purchased. I think that should last us two weeks! Although we will not have the luxury of indulging in al dente pastas, spongy focaccia, or aromatic pizzas I am determined to create grain free dishes that even our Italian friends can enjoy.
So, to jump start my new adventure in grain/gluten/sugar/starch free Italian cooking I present to you this humble tart. Simple in all but taste, this dish is full of flavor and makes for a lovely presentation. As I baked this I imagined myself as the Italian "Mamma" that everyone loves and dotes on, with rosy cheeks and my long tresses tussled into a bun that only European women can create. I swayed my hips as I sauntered to the oven, channeling Sophie Loren (minus the cleavage). Carefully I removed the tarts, dressed them in a fine number of fresh figs and arugula and made my way to the table. My husband, channeling the Massimo character from The Wedding Planner (Buddy Buddy!) graciously accepted his plate and perhaps a kiss or two: )
"Buon Appetito!" I cried out. We devoured our meal, fully aware that we are indeed not Italian, but our hearts quietly leapt as they pondered our impending trip, which is now upon us.
So my friends, off I go, camera and Italian dictionary in hand. Ciao!!
P.S. The dandelion greens in this dish are actual dandelion leaves , you know from that yellow flower we all call a weed? Do not be scared, these are so tasty and good for you. They are chock full of vitamins A,B,C and D plus high in iron and potassium! Bitter if eaten alone, these greens pair wonderfully with parmesan, garlic and toasted pine nuts. I almost prefer this pesto over the traditional recipe made with basil.
I purchased these greens from my grocery but you could very well harvest them yourself if you dare to be frugal :)
Almond Herb Tarts with Dandelion Pesto, Truffled Fontina & Figs
(makes 4-5 mini tartlets)
- 4 or 5 mini tartlets
- dandelion pesto
- truffled fontina cheese ( I found this in the specialty cheese section at Whole Foods)
- fresh figs, quartered
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1TBSP minced fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 TBSP water
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and water. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan or 4 (or 5) mini tartlet pans.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for about 30 minutes. The place in the fridge for about 45 minutes (this helps them come out of the tart pans easily and without crumbling). Remove tart shells from fridge, turn them upside down and using a spoon tap the pan until the shell slips out. Set tartletts aside onto a baking dish.
For the Dandelion Pesto (from David Lebovitz, makes 2 cups)
- 12 ounces washed dandelion leaves
- 1 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 6 TBSP pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 1/2 ounces of parmesan
Place everything but the olive oil in a blender or food processor. Start the blender/food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue blending until a thick paste has formed. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Put a generous layer of pesto into each tart shell. Top with two slices of fontina. Place tartlets in 350F oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has softened.
Remove from oven. Place a handful of arugula on top of each tartlet then garnish with figs. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.