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Zucchini Days of Summer 

click to enlarge The abundance of summer zucchini is the perfect excuse for a delicious tart.

Photo by Simona Carini

The abundance of summer zucchini is the perfect excuse for a delicious tart.

Just saying the word "zucchini" evokes summer and the celebration of abundance for which zucchini plants are famous.

I get inspired by the different varieties of zucchini and summer squash, which results in my often coming home from the farmers market with a large amount. But I never have a problem using up my purchase. Zucchini are so versatile that if you have some in the crisper, you can always make a frittata, a quick side dish (grilled zucchini anyone?), a vegetable sauce for pasta, or, as described here, a tart.

For several years, to make savory tarts I used a crust made of flour and water, which I described in an earlier article ("Hooray for Carrots — for Once," June 4, 2015). More recently I have been using a (gluten-free) crust made with cashews, coconut flour and butter, a variation of a recipe in the cookbook The Ketogenic Kitchen by Domini Kemp and Patricia Daly.

For the filling, besides zucchini, I use fresh onions and garlic, all now available at the farmers market. While the recipe takes a bit of work, it can be done in stages, with the crust and filling prepared in advance, and the final baking close to serving time. Zucchini lovers will like this dish and people who are not wild about zucchini may even decide the vegetable deserves another chance.

Zucchini Tart

Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients

For the crust:

2 1/4 ounces (roughly 1/2 cup) raw cashews

2 ounces (roughly 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) coconut flour

1/8 teaspoon berberé spice mix or sweet paprika

A pinch of salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, thoroughly cold

For the filling:

1 1/2 pounds zucchini (all green or a mix of green and golden zucchini)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

10 ounces fresh sweet onion, diced small

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon berberé spice mix or sweet paprika plus a pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste

2 ounces fresh chèvre

3/4 ounce freshly grated cheese, like Manchego or cheddar

Put the cashews, coconut flour, spice and salt in a food processor and process until the cashews are finely ground. Add the butter, cut into small cubes, then pulse briefly a few times until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

To bake the tart, use a 9 3/8-inch in diameter, 1-inch high tart pan with removable bottom.

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Put the crust mix in the tart pan and distribute it evenly. With your fingertips press the mix down to make an even layer all around.

Bake until the crust turns golden at the edge, 9-12 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and set aside until ready to assemble the tart.

Trim the zucchini top and bottom, quarter each lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8 inch-thick slices.

Warm up the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, stir to coat and let cook on medium-low heat for 8 minutes, then add the garlic, sprinkle the spice mix and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, then add the zucchini and stir well.

Cover and cook gently until the zucchini are tender (20-25 minutes). Every few minutes, uncover and stir. The last 5 minutes or so, cook uncovered to let the extra water evaporate.

Sprinkle the salt and stir, then remove the pan from the heat. Let cool, then add the crumbled chèvre and stir well to distribute it evenly.

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Transfer the filling onto the prepared crust and distribute it evenly. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.

Bake for 30-32 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven. Cut the tart in the pan and serve right away. The crust is crumbly and the plating may not be perfect, but the first bite will make you forget everything else.

Simona Carini also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her blog www.pulcetta.com.

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Simona Carini

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