Abundant eggs, peppers, tomatoes fill fall tart

It’s almost a surreal experience to eat a sun-ripened peach for breakfast while gazing out the window at a world turned chilly and rainy.

The change in the weather hasn’t yet brought about the garden’s demise. But it’s time to hustle, as my mother-in-law reminded me today. All those chilies that we’ve been waiting to ripen so they can be smoked won’t get much ruddier. And any tomato that’s blushing pink should be plucked and deposited indoors.

Our chickens seem to be making one final push, as well, producing more eggs than we can consume in our usual meals. So I offered to make a quiche for my mother-in-law, who hasn’t felt up to the task of cooking this week. I almost apologetically reminded her that it would start with store-bought pie crust. But as many garden veggies as I can cram into the pan will redeem the recipe.

If I had a bit more energy, myself, or more time in between spates of harvesting, I’d really wow her with this pastry that I’ve wanted to make for the past two summers. Studded with whole cumin seeds, it’s a slightly savory vehicle for this peppery, tomatoey filling that embraces several whole eggs. While she’d likely be impressed with homemade pastry, my mother-in-law might think the world had started turning in the opposite direction if I made a dish with her beloved green bell peppers, which I loathe.

Because the filling can be refrigerated for up to a week, I could pull off that and the pastry (which also can be premade) in separate stints in the kitchen. Our garden tomatoes, peeled and chopped, would be an ideal substitute for the canned ones in this recipe. The filling can go into tart shell cold before baking.

Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

Mexican Tomato Tart With Cumin Pastry

2 cups flour, plus more for work surface

2 teaspoons cumin seed

8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped

28 ounces canned, no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 very fresh large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cumin seed, butter and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse until butter is reduced to pea-sized pieces. With processor motor running, dribble in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough just starts to hold together. Add extra water as needed.

Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer dough to work surface; knead dough briefly, then shape it into a flat disc. Pastry dough can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days; bring it to room temperature before rolling out and baking.

Use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 14 inches in diameter, then carefully transfer it to tart pan. Trim edges even with rim and prick bottom with a fork in several places, then cover it with parchment paper or aluminum foil and add dried beans or coins to weigh it down. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until pastry feels firm to the touch.

Remove paper or foil and weights; bake crust for 10 minutes, until bottom feels crisp. Remove from the oven; reduce temperature to 350 F.

Meanwhile, make tart filling: Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add the onions and bell peppers. Cover and cook until vegetables begin to get tender, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crushed red-pepper flakes; cook, uncovered, until filling becomes quite thick, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Remove from heat; taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Spread filling evenly in parbaked tart shell. Create a large well in center, for 1 of the eggs, then create 4 more, evenly spaced around edge. Crack eggs into depressions and season each lightly with salt and pepper.

Cover tart with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven until egg whites are set but yolks are still runny, for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Washington Post from “The Best of Rose Elliot: The Ultimate Vegetarian Collection” (Hamlyn, 2014).

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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