Red Chard and Leek Tart

When your body forces you to take a step back to rest and your schedule spirals out of control, suddenly eating home cooked food – at home becomes a luxury. Despite the few massages that I’ve gotten (why I waited this long to get one, I have no idea), multiple yoga classes and my return to indoor (blah!) spinning classes, I’ve found myself restless at night from the lack of exercise and exhausted each day from the craziness otherwise known as my life. I definitely don’t want to push things, but I’m getting pretty impatient with getting back to “normal”. I know I’ve been told that it can take up to a month to recover from a marathon, but I’d rather fall into the “or less” camp.

Thanks to my RMT (LOVE her), I’m currently in the middle of trying out some hot and cold therapy for the first time. According to her instructions, all I have to do is alternate between applying ice cold and hot wraps to my trouble areas. Here’s hoping that it will make the tightness go away!

As for future plans, I’ve been thinking about where I want to go from here and have been considering a few things. I will update you all soon on what I’ve decided, I promise!

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Even though my body takes its sweet time recovering, I’ve been scoring big wins in the kitchen. Last week I feasted on delicious homemade potato cakes and this week I experimented with making a vegetarian version of my turkey cumin meatballs using white beans and tofu. Last, but not least, inspired by a suggested recipe from Mama Earth (love that they give you recipe ideas each week!), I thew caution to the wind and decided to attempt to make my first tart….ever!

Not one to follow recipes exactly unless it couldn’t possibly be made any easier, a few substitutions turned into a complete recipe makeover. But that’s okay, it’s the recipe thought that counts.

First, I wanted to make it using ingredients that I already had on hand. Unfortunately, that ruled out ingredients like whipping cream and thyme (note to self: stock up on dried thyme!). Second, as much as I love puff pastry, I didn’t have the time or patience to put one together. I mean, what kind of full-time worker has the time to refrigerate dough, roll it out and pre-bake it while the rest of the ingredients are assembled? Don’t get me wrong – I am determined to make my own pastry dough some day – but not when I have to wake up early for work the next day.

Okay, so I was never intending to make this tart vegan, although if you disregard the fact that I sauteed the vegetables in butter, this tart was completely free of animal products. But who am I kidding? I would probably use butter again the next time I make this too.

Completely vegetarian, almost vegan, and subtly fantastic in flavours, I give this tart two enthusiastic thumbs up!

It began with the dough. Well, I should really begin by saying that I am no dough-expert. In fact, I am probably the last person that you would want to take dough advice on. Having said that, I was delighted with how this turned out, and even my self-proclaimed crust snob coworker gave it glowing praise.

I digress. First you add some coconut oil with flour. I used spelt – you can probably get away with whole wheat or all-purpose. Then I slowly added cold water (do NOT be over zealous and add too much. I learned this the hard way with my spinach roti) until it came together to form a dough. I don’t know if you need to knead it, but I knew I certainly didn’t want to.

So I smooshed (yes, I just used a non-word) it into a mini baking dish (had to play it safe for my first attempt!) and used my knuckles to even out the bottom.

Okay, the filling. I started off by chopping up the white and light green parts of the fantastic leek that came in my basket last week. In about 1 T butter. Mmm, butter. Then I tossed in chopped red chard – also from my basket.

I had some leftover soft tofu from my meatballs that I wanted to use up before it went bad so I decided to substitute that as the filling instead of using eggs. I also did not feel like turning on my blender, mostly because I didn’t want to wash it after, so I figured whisking it with a slash of unsweetened soy milk would produce a similar result. Worked like a charm.

Then I tossed in some of cooked leek and red chard along with the tofu and mixed everything together. I was planning to add some nutmeg to the mixture to add a subtle kick but forgot. I will do this next time and let you know if it makes a noticeable difference.

I poured the filling into the crust, threw it into the oven and anxiously waited.

Good things come to those who wait.

Just check out that crust! It stood up on its own and everything. Best 10 minute crust ever.

Although I wasn’t watching the time, I would guess that this entire tart came together in about 1 hour, including baking time. Of course you could go the distance and make (or use pre-made) pastry dough, but in a pinch, give this crust a try for an easy and delicious meal. Make with locally organic produce and you’ll never look back. Tomorrow’s lunch never looked so exciting.

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Red Chard and Leek Tart

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 1 c spelt flour
  • 1.5-2 t coconut oil
  • cold water

For the filling

  • 1 T butter (or coconut oil to make the tart vegan)
  • 1/2 a leek, with the white and light green parts chopped
  • 2-3 stalks red chard, chopped
  • 1/2 package of soft tofu
  • 1 T soy milk (can use dairy or almond, coconut, etc)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°C.
  • In a small to medium bowl, add coconut oil to flour and mix well. Slowly add cold water, about 1 tsp at a time, until the flour just comes together to form dough. You don’t want it to be too sticky so be careful with the water. You can always add more flour if it gets too sticky.
  • Spray a small baking pan with cooking oil and pat down dough into the baking dish, allowing it to rise up the sides of the pan as well.
  • In a large frying pan, melt butter and saute leeks. After about 10 minutes or so, add red chard and continue sauteing until both are cooked through. If it gets too dry, turn down the heat or add a splash of water to avoid burning either of the vegetables.
  • In a larger bowl, whip half a package of tofu with a splash of milk until  the tofu is fully broken down. Toss in leeks and red chard and mix well. Pour filling into the crust and bake for about 14-15 minutes.
  • Turn down the oven temperature to 350°C and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, allow tart to cool in the pan, serve and enjoy.

Notes:

  • I followed the baking instructions (first baking at 400°C and then at 350°C) from the original recipe, but it was probably unnecessary given that the original recipe uses puff pastry for the crust and lots of egg and whipping cream based mixture that apparently puffs up (mine didn’t at all).
  • Like I said, I was never intending to make this tart vegan which is why I sauteed my vegetables in butter, but since I had leftover tofu that I didn’t want to go to waste, I decided to use that as the base for my filling. I’m sure the leeks and chard would have tasted just as delicious if they were cooked in coconut oil.
  • The original recipe called for dried thyme and nutmeg in the  mixture. Herbs and spices make everything better so I’m definitely going to try using both next time.
  • There will definitely be a next time. Very soon.
  • This tastes just as good microwaved the next day with a little bit of salt and pepper. And mustard if you’re a mustard fanatic like me.

Going Organic (and why I never want to go back!)

I wanted to thank you all for your encouraging words and advice in my last post. After spending a few days feeling exhausted, sad and defeated, I’ve finally managed to put things into perspective and to move on. Sh*t happens, and so what? I’ve decided that 2010 was a pretty big test of my relationship with running. Last year, I was still in the honeymoon phase and I felt like I was invincible; this year, reality set in and I realized that if I wanted to continue running, I had to take better care of myself. I must have been doing something wrong since I went from one injury to another. Even now, I’m still not feeling as great as I felt this time last year when I run. I’m sure it had a lot to do with the fact that I broke just about every rule in the “what to do immediately after your race to help recovery” book. Whoops. Lesson learned.

My plan is to take the winter off and just focus on maintenance running instead of jumping from one training cycle to another. I also want to focus on doing more yoga and strength training – before I felt like it was too much, and instead of making time for it, I conveniently excused myself from it. I knew there would be repercussions so I have no one to blame but myself. Next year I will be even stronger than this year, and I am sure that I’ll have my chance to run a marathon in the way that I was intending to. Yes, I said marathon – you didn’t think I’d give up on that distance so easily, did you?

Oh,the other plan is to eat copious amounts of organic vegetables in the meantime. With no meat except for fish. Yep, I’ve made some serious dietary changes that I am feeling better and more confident about each day. I’m not using  labels for myself because I don’t think it’s necessary. My goal has always been to listen to my body’s cravings and to feed it what it is asking for which may include eating meat from time to time (but in the past few months I’ve gone so far as to be somewhat revolted by the thought of eating meat, so that was kind of an eye opener for me).

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Now I want to spend some time discussing organic produce.

Let me begin by saying that I don’t always make the wisest decisions. I am human afterall, and I often think with my heart first and my head second.

However, I really deserve a pat on the back for my decision to  only keep organic produce in my fridge. Don’t mind if I do! -insert self back-pat here-

Everything just tastes better.

EDITED TO ADD: I’ve been getting my produce from an organic delivery service called Mama Earth Organics. I highly recommend them!!!!

My mushrooms are almost too perfect to eat, but I’ve managed to.

Sauteed with coconut oil and served atop some delicious homemade (organic!) eggplant burgers.

Or on a tortilla pizza.

These rainbow carrots had the sweetest bite that have forever ruined those tasteless “carrots” that you buy at grocery stores.

Have you ever seen something so beautiful?

Rainbow beets with dazzling rings of white and pink.

Butternut squash – perfect for roasting and mixing in with oatmeal and something special that I’ll share in the next post. Yes, you can eat the skin and no, it won’t make you feel sick.

Broccoli and potato just begging to be roasted.

Mmmm, and devoured.

Romanesco cauliflower – a delicious cross between cauliflower and broccoli. I didn’t want to complicate these tree-like florets so I simply steamed them and ate them plain.

Kabocha squash.

Just chop, de-seed, and toss in the oven with sea salt at 400° for about 25 minutes or so. No oil required. Melts in your mouth (skin and all!) and tastes great with  just about everything. Add to your salads, sandwiches, or have it on the side. You could also mash it up and bake with it – mine didn’t last long enough to allow for such experimentation!

I have to admit that I was skeptical over this whole “organic” thing. Was there really a difference in taste? Was it worth the extra effort and money?

After a month of eating only organic produce at home (and wherever possible when eating out), my love affair with food has only intensified. Yes, some days I dream about coming home and cooking up a storm, but lately my hectic schedule has limited me to eating these vegetables in their simplest form – either roasted, sauteed, steamed or even raw. All of these methods allow the flavours of these vegetables to come out and speak for themselves. My taste buds have never been happier.

Amazing, just amazing.

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Now if you don’t mind, my body is asking for more tea and frozen yogurt (haha, and no, it is not organic but I can definitely live with that!). May as well do what I can to keep it happy. 😉

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