I should have listened. The recipe called for one cup of finely chopped pitted dates. I did not do that. Instead I threw a big rounded cup of somewhat dry whole pitted dates into the food processor along with the raw pecans and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to make the crust for Mark Reinfeld's raw tart. I did this despite the fact that I had never made a raw tart before and the author of the well-tested recipe has cooked professionally for twenty years, founding a much loved restaurant that I always wanted to visit. He has co-authored five cookbooks and recieved many honors and awards for his vegan cuisine, and still, I decided that I probably knew better.
Then the blade snapped off my food processor and went rapidly whirring around with a giant clump of slightly marred dates and pecans. But I did not notice this was happening. I thought it was taking a surprisingly long time to make the crumbly tart dough that I would press into the pan. Also, there were very loud strange noises coming from the machine. But this all seemed a small price to pay for not having to pre-chop my dates. Right? Thank goodness for the safety lock cover.
It turns out - Mark Reinfeld knows what he's talking about. In his new book, The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe, he provides a huge variety of quick recipes. While sticking to one continent, he visits over a dozen countries and digs deep for some interesting dishes. Sure there are crepes and a Spanish Tortilla, but there's also Tempeh Sauerbraten and Scottish Oatcakes. There's a great combination of raw and cooked, healthy and indulgent here. I look forward to really cooking from this book often.
And the tart? Against all odds, it was beautiful. I used plums because I had them, and after my sad, sad food processor debacle, I tucked the whole thing away in the fridge where it was completely neglected until the next morning. I cut slivers for breakfast after the boys discovered its existence, and it was delicious with coffee. There was a date clump or two in my crust, but the silky cashew cream and cinnamon spiked tart plums more than made up for them. Delicious.
Raw Pear Tart with Cashew Cream and Fresh Berries
From the book The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe by Mark Reinfeld. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com
Makes: one 9-inch tart
- 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates (try Medjool)
- 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground cardamom
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar, coconut nectar, or pure maple syrup, or to taste
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave or coconut nectar
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground nutmeg, or or ground cardamom or allspice
- 2 large ripe pears, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 pint fresh berries, rinsed and drained well
- mint leaves
- Place the cashews in a small bowl with 2 cups of water. Prepare the topping: Place the lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large shallow dish and mix well. Add the sliced pears and gently coat well.
- Prepare the crust: Oil a 9-inch tart pan. Place the pecans in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the dates, cinnamon, and cardamom and pulse-process until the ingredients are just ground up. Do not overprocess or your crust will be too gummy.
- Transfer to the tart pan and press down firmly to create the crust. The mixture should be holding together. If not, return to the processor and process a bit further. Depending upon the moisture of the dates, you may need to add a small amount of water or liquid from the topping to help hold the crust together.
- Prepare the cashew cream: Drain and rinse the cashews well. Place them in a strong blender along with the 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and agave nectar. Blend until creamy. The amount of water you will need will depend on the strength of your blender.
- Spread an even layer of the cream over the crust. Creatively place the pear slices on top of the cream. Try forming a spiral where each pear slice slightly overlaps the one next to it.
- Decorate with fresh berries and mint leaves. If you have more time, chill for 15 minutes or more before serving.