Zucchini and corn tart mixed with summer squash and mozzarella, all topped off with slivers of mint and basil. The perfect side dish or vegetarian main for the summertime bounty from the garden.
At this point in my life, most of my friends have lost both of their parents. So when I heard that the 90+ year-old parents of a friend were zipping up to the Lake for a weekend visit, I wanted them all to come to dinner.
As the dinner drew near, I worried if they might sit wrapped in shawls, and focus the conversation on their aches and pains. My husband is a retired physician, and this turn of conversation is not uncommon.
But I consoled myself that they drove themselves here. So they must be at least alert and aware of their surroundings. Right?
Within minutes of their arrival, I realized I had worried for nothing. They were youthful, possessed excellent energy, and loved wine (hello, they live in Napa). Throughout the evening, we all kept up a steady stream of chatter about our lives, our travels, and bear sightings (this is Tahoe, after all).
The evening made me wonder what combination of factors leads one person to age gracefully, and another to falter?
I have friends who mourned their 30th birthday, and then their 40th. If those are dress rehearsals for 70, 80 and 90, they're in for some difficult times.
So what seems to support aging with grace? For starters:
- Good health (duh), a strong social network of friends and/or family, and a sense of humor to prevent taking yourself too seriously.
- A strong faith in something larger than yourself.
- Be interested and engaged in things outside of yourself.
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.
Tips in Making this Zucchini and Corn Tart
Tips for Making the Tart Shell
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. Here's a review of the best ones available. But I urge you to reconsider. A tender, buttery crust is perfect in this zucchini and corn tart.
This recipe uses einkorn (wheat) flour. I love the fact that it’s so much healthier than modern wheat flours. Check out this post for the health benefits. If you make this tart with modern all-purpose flour, no worries, just substitute it for einkorn using a 1 to 1 ratio when using it for a pie crust.
Even for pie crust, I weigh the flour. Too much flour can create a tough crust, and weighing it prevents this from happening.
When rolling out dough, always sandwich the disc between 2 pieces of wax paper. This allows you to quickly roll out the dough without having it stick to the counter. This also means you don't have to add flour to the workspace. It always ends up being incorporated into the dough, and this typically results in a tough crust.
Tips for Making the Tart Filling
Don't use pre-grated mozzarella for this zucchini and corn tart, as it typically includes cellulose which mutes the flavor and makes it drier. I love the flavor of Mozzarella di Bufala made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo. It’s creamier and therefore impossible to grate, so I just tore off pieces for the tart. Otherwise, feel free to grate up fresh mozzarella. Traditionally mozzarella is not vegetarian as it typically uses animal rennet. There are, however, vegetarian mozzarella-like alternative cheeses.
Zucchini and summer squash are both soft enough that they're very easy to slice, but it's not always easy to slice evenly. A hand-held mandolin (see the equipment notes below) helps with this, and makes the work go very quickly.
The best way to slice corn kernels from an ear of corn is to lay the ear down on a cutting board lengthwise. Slice down one side of the corn, removing the kernels. Turn the cob a little, and repeat. Continue until all the corn kernels are removed. Most other methods result in corn rolling all over the place.
When fully baked, the zucchini will be al dente, retaining much of its moisture and a slight bite to it. Zucchini and summer squash both have a lot of moisture locked in them, and if you cook them until they're completely limp, the tart will become wet and soggy.
The actual cooking time will be dependent on how thickly you slice the zucchini and summer squash.
Recommended Equipment + Supplies for Making This Zucchini and Corn Tart
Zucchini and Corn Tart with Mozzarella
- 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 di Bufala or regular mozzarella cheese
- 2 medium zucchini squash
- 1 yellow summer squash
- 2 ears corn
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh dill
- It you're making your own crust, watch this video for mixing the dough. Refrigerate the dough until firm - about 20 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 425˚F to pre-bake the crust.
- I roll my dough out between 2 sheets wax paper. This keeps the dough from sticking to the counter and negates the need to keep adding flour to the workspace. Flip the dough over every few roll-outs. Each time the dough disc is flipped over, gently peel off the wax paper off, and reapply. This allows the dough to move more easily when being rolled. If the dough becomes sticky in places, sprinkle on a little flour.
- When rolled out, it should fit into your tart pan. For this recipe, I used a rectangular tart pan 8" X 11" instead of the round pie shape shown in the photo. But either works fine. If the dough is too warm to work with at any stage, just pop it back in the refrigerator for a quick chill. 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 or parchment paper to fit the bottom of the crust, 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 the squash across the tart. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Lower the temperature of the oven to 400˚ F. Bake for 30 minutes and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the squash tender. (Pro Tip: Squash contains a great deal of moisture. If you bake the tart until the squash is completely limp, the tart will become wet and soggy. This baking time ensures that the squash is cooked, but still al dente, retaining much of it's moisture.
- Thinly slice fresh mint, basil and dill leaves and spread across the top of the tart just before serving.