Zucchini and summer squash tart with corn and mozzarella, topped with slivers of mint and basil.
At this point in my life, a scattering of my friends have one parent still living, but most of us have trudged down the path of losing both parents. So when I heard that the 90+ year-old parents of a neighbor-friend of ours, Mary, were zipping up to the Lake for a short weekend visit from the wine country, I wanted them all to come to dinner.
Once their arrival time drew near, I started to worry just a bit. Would they sit quietly, wrapped in shawls, and focus the conversation on their aches and pains? My husband is a retired physician, and this turn of the conversation is not uncommon. I consoled myself that they drove themselves here, so they must be at least alert and aware of their surroundings. Right?
Within 2 minutes of their arrival, I realized I had worried for nothing. Neither of them looked a day over 80 (90 is apparently the new 80), both possessed excellent energy, and loved wine (hello, they live in Napa). Throughout appetizers, dinner and dessert, we all kept up a steady stream of chatter about our lives, our travels, and bear sightings (this is Tahoe, after all).
I find I’m increasingly interested in observing others who move gracefully (or not) through the latter decades of life. What combination of factors lead one person to age gracefully, and another to falter? I remember friends of mine mourning their 30th birthday, and then their 40th. If those are dress rehearsals for 70, 80 and 90, they might be in for a long haul.
So what seems to support aging with grace?
It helps to have good health (duh), a strong social network of friends and/or family, and a sense of humor to prevent taking yourself too seriously.
I believe it helps to have a strong faith in something larger than yourself, whatever name you put to that faith. I genuinely believe it can share the load of whatever burden you carry.
And I think it’s important to be interested and engaged in things outside of yourself. Admittedly, things beyond our control can rob our ability to do this (dementia comes to mind, no pun intended), but turning our attention outside ourselves, to the extent we can, seems like a healthy thing to do.
These are just thoughts running through my head in the aftermath of that dinner last weekend. If you made it this far, thanks for bearing with me. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are too.
Meanwhile, this tart is one of the things I served at the dinner. It apparently serves 6 since a few of us had seconds, and only a small sliver was left over that I ate with my lunch the following day.
If you don’t want to make your own crust, I totally get it. There are lots of frozen ones you can buy at the market. But I urge you to reconsider. A tender, buttery crust is perfect with the vegetables and makes this dish sing.
I used einkorn flour, because that’s how I roll. I love the fact that it’s so much healthier than modern wheat flours. Check out this post for ways to work with it in a yeasted dough, and this post for the health benefits. If you make this tart with modern all-purpose flour, no worries, just substitute it for the einkorn using a 1 to 1 ratio. No other adjustments are necessary. In case you’re interested, here’s how you can purchase einkorn – just click on the below photos (affiliate link).
Feel free to use pre-grated mozzarella, but I prefer the flavor of Mozzarella di Bufala made from the milk of the domestic Italian water buffalo. It’s creamier and therefore impossible to grate, so I just tore off pieces for the tart.
- 2½ cups (10 ounces or 300 grams) einkorn flour (or standard all-purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon sea salt)
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- ¼ - ⅓ cup ice water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or Gourmet Gardens garlic paste)
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 2 medium zucchini squash
- 1 yellow summer squash
- 2 ears corn
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Follow the directions here, which include photos of the various steps that work well for me every time I make my own crust. Please adjust for the above ingredients, however, and form one large disc to roll out for the tart. When rolled out, it should fit into your tart pan. I used a rectangular tart pan 8" X 11".
- Once it's rolled out, because it will be large, I find it easier to work with if I refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.
- Lay the dough over the tart pan, tuck into the corners, and trim ⅛" above the edge of the tart pan. The dough will shrink a bit during baking. Dock the dough by puncturing it many times with a fork. Fold a sheet of foil to fit inside the tart shell, and weigh it down with dried beans or rice.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake another 20 - 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and green onion slices, and sauté for 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute. Spread across the bottom of the baked tart shell. Spread ½ of the cheese on top.
- Thinly slice the zucchini and yellow squash using a sharp knife or mandolin. Arrange the slices on top of the cheese. Shuck the corn and slice off the kernels using a sharp knife. Spread across the squash, and finish with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Lower the temperature of the oven to 400˚ F. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the squash tender.
- Thinly slice fresh mint leaves and basil and spread across the top of the tart just before serving.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month we’re featuring Summer Bounty, hosted by Laura Kumin, who blogs at Mother Would Know. Our theme features fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits associated with summer in a menu that we hope you’ll enjoy!
Dill Caprese Bruschetta from Jenni Field’s Pastry Chef Online
Mediterranean Salsa Brushetta from Foodhunter’s Guide
Middle Eastern Zucchini Tahini Eggplant Dip from Mother Would Know
Bruschetta Pizza from The Redheaded Baker
Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Tomato Tart from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Blueberry White Chocolate Tart from Stetted
Mile High Strawberry Pie from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Pretty as a Peach Shortbread (gluten-free) from The Heritage Cook
Blueberry Lavender Shrub Syrup from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Lavender Lemonade Martini from Creative Culinary
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.