Oct 182013


Apologies for the long delay between posts. I have been swamped with work and helping with this event, and mostly have been living on morning smoothies, takeaway soup for lunch, and whatever I can grab for a quick dinner before falling into an exhausted sleep. But here and there, I’ve managed to fit in a bit of cooking — I just haven’t carved out the time to write about it!

This tart was a kooky idea that turned out fabulously delish, and I cannot wait to make it again. It started as an experiment in making a vegan pizza, but it turned into more of a complex, main course tart. The cornmeal crust is topped with a richly nutty macadamia-pine nut spread and then a bunch of other things that somehow worked well together — sautéed mushrooms and peppers, roughly chopped briny green olives, a bit of chopped pineapples for a sweet contrast. All lightly drizzled with both marinara and pesto. It sounds improbable, I know, but trust me.

A note about the tart shell… I discovered these Vicolo organic corn meal pizza crusts in the freezer section of my local Whole Foods a few years ago. They are delicious, easy, and endlessly versatile. You should try them!

Pairing: Chardonnay

The richness of the macadamia spread lends itself beautifully to Chardonnay, as do the shiitakes and the hit of tropical pineapple. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed lately, at various price points:

Buried Cane 2010 Chardonnay Columbia Valley Whiteline No-Oak ($14). Nice — particularly at this price. Refreshing, crisp apple, Asian pear, touch of melon and bright citrus. Easy. Find it!

Chamisal 2011 Chardonnay Central Coast Stainless Unoaked ($18). Crisp, fresh, nice depth, snappy green apple, citrus, some tropical richness. Really loved. Find it!

Lawer Family 2011 Chardonnay Russian River Valley Duck Shack ($22). Straightforward and easy to like, with a balance of tropical melon and citrus, plenty of creamy richness, and a bright finish. Find it!

Grgich Hills 2010 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($42). Always a pleasure, the 2010 vintage of this iconic Chardonnay is just a baby at this stage. Offering glimpses of the complexity to come. With apple, pear, fig, nectarine, touches of slate and pretty herbal notes. Should age beautifully. Find it!

Chateau Montelena 2010 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($50). I loved this wine — obsessed may be the better word, actually. Wonderfully sleek and elegant, with layers of green pineapple, Granny Smith apple, smooth melon, well-integrated oak influence. If you’re looking for big and creamy, look elsewhere. Find it!

Recipe: Mushroom Macadamia Tart

1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 heaping teaspoon of red miso
2 cups sliced, cleaned shiitake mushrooms (stems removed)
1/4 cup red bell pepper strips
1/4 cup white onion strips
4 or 5 firm, briny green olives like Cerignola, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons good quality jarred marinara sauce
2-3 teaspoon good quality basil pesto (optional — use a vegan version or omit completely for an entirely vegan dish)

Preheat oven to 425F.

Blitz the macadamias and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor until nearly smooth. Add the red miso and process until well-combined. Spread on the tart crust. (If you end up with too much, save the rest and spread on toast the next morning for a delicious twist on nut butter!)

Saute shiitakes in a small amount of olive oil. Add strips of red bell pepper and onion and cook briefly — just a couple of minutes. Spread mushroom mixture in tart shell. Top that with chopped olives and chopped pineapple.

Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly drizzle tart with marinara and pesto; return to oven and cook another 5 minutes. Slice and serve!

Makes 1 8-inch tart.

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