The Farmer's Market has been up and running here for a couple of weeks now. Mostly, everything on offer is green.
At first, I admit, it feels disappointing. After a long winter of unending bundles of dark leafy greens to get us through the cold, stormy days, hearing that the Farmer's Market is - at last! - open at the town landing sounds like a liberation. Finally, we can refresh our palates and plates with all the glorious local produce that's available for only a few short months here in Maine!
We rush the kids out the door and walk the short distance down the street to find . . . stall after stall stacked with boxes and bundles of green, with only the demure blush of radishes to disrupt the monochromatic view.
Oh right. We're still weeks away from any real color here, the heirloom tomatoes and wild raspberries, fiery chilies and purple potatoes, sweet corn and yellow watermelons. The growing season, especially after our recent rainy Spring, is still in its infancy here.
We don't realize it at first, but this is actually a blessing. Because we don't turn around and go home, we start looking more closely at what's going on in all that green. We find kale microgreens, which are adorable. Without the crush of other customers, reaching in front of and standing impatiently behind us, we have time to talk to our favorite farmer, and learn more about her new meat and raw milk offerings. And we discover Ruby Streak.
That sounds like a fancy cocktail. Or an eyeshadow color. Or (dare I say it), a porn star.
It is better than all of that.
It is a spicy baby leaf mustard green, and I am obsessed with it. Frilly and spiky and looking somewhat intimidating, it has an addictive green heat that travels all the way up your nose, like wasabi. I eat it plain, out of hand. I sauté it with kale from my garden and onions and chili garlic sauce, and top it with a fried egg. I chop it up and add it to a quick pasta dish of tomatoes, garlic, and thyme. And the other day, when the fridge inventory was down to three eggs and half a portion of pie dough, I made it the main character in a delicious tart.
Technically, I know I should call it a quiche. It was egg-based, as quiches always are. But for me, "quiche" conjures up the watery-broccoli, soggy crust varieties from my childhood, baked in store-bought pie shells. (Sorry, Mom!) That's not what I made.
My tart had a custard base enriched with a bit of cream cheese and goat cheese, with some crisped bacon thrown in for good measure. Most importantly, it was baked in a tart pan, which I think adds a touch of class to just about everything it holds.
Josh ate it warm for breakfast. I ate my serving later, at room temperature, for lunch. It would be ideal at a brunch. And if you live somewhere where it's not yet too hot to bake during the middle of the day, I think it'd make a lovely light dinner on the back deck, paired with a salad (spiked with more Ruby Streak!) and a rosé or crisp white wine.
It's just that versatile. And delicious.
Ruby Streak Tart
yields one 8-inch tart
1 half-batch of Best-Ever Gluten-Free Pie Crust (Make a full batch, and freeze what you don't use. I guarantee it will come in handy soon.)
3 large eggs
3 fluid oz whole milk
1 Tbsp heavy cream
30 grams cream cheese
30 grams goat cheese (our local favorite is from here)
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 slices of bacon, coarsely chopped and cooked over medium-low heat until crispy
1 large handful of Ruby Streak greens, or other baby mustard green, chopped, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the pie dough to a diameter of about 10 inches. Transfer to an 8-inch round tart pan and trim excess. Line with parchment or foil, and fill with dried beans, rice, or other pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden brown and bottom is dry, but has not yet begun to brown. Remove parchment/foil and weights, and set tart shell aside. Don't turn off the oven.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and heavy cream until thoroughly blended. (I like to use a stick blender for this.)
In another bowl, stir together the cream cheese and goat cheese to make a paste. Add a small amount of the whisked eggs and stir to thin out the paste. Slowly add the remaining eggs, whisking constantly to fully combine. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Scatter the cooked bacon evenly over the bottom of the blind-baked tart shell, and cover it with the chopped Ruby Streak. Pour in the custard, going slowly so as not to push all the mustard greens away from the center of the tart. Lay reserved whole Ruby Streak leaves decoratively on the surface of the tart.
Bake on a baking sheet in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the custard is fully set but has not yet begun to brown. Cool on a wire rack. Tart may be served warm or at room temperature.
Posted by Tara Barker at 12:30 AM