Down Yonder Zine: Summer Tomato Tart
A couple of years ago when I lived in Atlanta, I rented a house with two friends in the section of town called Old Fourth Ward. Besides the great perks of having my backyard butt up to the bike path or the bakery I worked at being across the street (makes stumbling to work at 5 am no so horrid), I also lived (literally!) three doors down from Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe. Now, unfortunately closed, the shop, run by the fabulous Leigh and Ken (and named after their black kitty, Cosmo), the store held a treasure trove of vegan goods from purses and t-shirts to frozen foods, vegan baking supplies, vegan cat and dog food, and, yes, vegan condoms. Although I was a student and pinching pennies, I did use the shop as my personal ice cream store (sooo many pints consumed during that year) and tried to pick up a new item to try every week. And that year I even won the coveted Best in Show at their Atlanta Vegan Bakeoff. I’m sure some of you awesome readers were there and I never knew it!
Fast forward a few years, and Ken & Leigh are still in Atlanta and they even made a kid (!) and Leigh is still blogging awesome vegan recipes. Above and beyond that, though, (as if having a child and running a store and writing a blog weren’t enough), she also wrote a zine! Down Yonder Vol. 1: Marlene is a tribute to Leigh’s mother, Marlene, and features veganized Southern summer classics like Proper Sweet Tea, Strawberry Salad with Candied Cashews and Buttermilk Dressing, and Snickers Cake. It’s a zine I should have cooked out of all summer long and I’m now regretting it.
The recipe I decided to try out first is her Summer Tomato Tart, a beautiful tofu-based tart with garden fresh tomatoes and basil. Maybe not the best dish to make during a cold front, but my fully ripe Purple Cherokee Tomatoes weren’t going to wait! Her preface to the recipe really took me back to the warmer days, though:
One of my all time favorite comfort foods is a tomato sandwich–toasted bread, a little Veganaise, a couple of tomato slices and a sprinkle of salt. I definitely inherited this simple sandwich habit from my mom. I went up yonder to visit my mom recently and she asked me if I wanted a tomato sandwich, just as she had asked me a hundred times in my childhood. I put together this tart to mimic the summer flavors of a good tomato sandwich, but with a little extra bit of fancy for a potluck side dish. This tart is made to be served cold, like a savory cheesecake.
Silky smooth and savory, this tart is really a summer gem. Fresh heirloom tomatoes just shine in this dish and, while I didn’t have any Vidalia onions on hand to add like the recipe called for, I bet they add just the sweetest crunch to the whole thing. I served the tart with mixed lettuce salad and, even though it was quite chilly in the house without the furnace on, the trip down memory lane and the great flavors were enough to warm me up and make me a happy, happy diner.
Summer Tomato Tart
For the crust:
2 c breadcrumbs
4 tbsp melted vegan margarine
For the filling:
5 small or 3 large red slicing tomatoes, ripe and ready to eat
Sprinkle of salt
7-10 leaves fresh basil
1/2 small Vidalia onion, sliced thin [I didn’t have one so I omitted it]
1 package Mori Nu Silken Tofu, Extra Firm or Firm
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly oil an 8″ round pie plate. Place bread crumbs in a bowl and pour the melted margarine over the crumbs. Toss well with a fork until the margarine is evenly distributed. Firmly press the crumbs into the prepared pie plate. It’s ok if the crumbs go up the sides a bit. Bake the crust in the middle rack of the the oven for 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool while you prepare the filling and move the oven temp up to the 375.
Slice the tomatoes to about 1/4″ thickness and lay them in a single layer on a payer towel lined plate. Sprinkle the slices evenly with salt. Set tomatoes aside.
In a blender or food processor, add tofu, oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and mustard powder. Blend until very smooth and creamy. Pour this mixture onto the cooled crust and spread out evenly using the back of a large spoon.
Place the tomato slices in a single layer on top of the tofu mixture. Add the basil leaves on top of the tomatoes, then add the onion slices over that. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until the tart looks lightly browned and is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then chill tart for at least 4 hours before serving.