Sans Meal Plan: Brunch-tastic
Spring Week has come and gone (goodbye, collection of fratty tanks…), and reality has begun to sink in; the end of the semester is fast approaching. As much fun as I had over Spring Weekend, I was more than ready to start using my kitchen again to create some delicious (and healthy) homemade meals after a week of Sno-Cones, popcorn, tater tots and an (over?)abundance of Baja’s. After buying all of the fruits and vegetables Eastside Marketplace had to offer, I set aside an entire afternoon for cooking, during which I made enough food to feed me for the week. Of these dishes, my favorite was the one that gave me an excuse to eat my favorite meal — breakfast — three times a day.
Brunch is a glorious thing: it both facilitates and deems socially acceptable the simultaneous consumption of eggs, bacon, french fries, pastries, sandwiches, coffee and alcohol. Brunch is one of those meals that people usually eat at restaurants, because they (like myself) are much too lazy to actually prepare such a cornucopia on a lazy Sunday. However, after a week of barely even opening the refrigerator, I was feeling inspired, and thought I would put in the effort to make a deliciously brunch-tastic tart.Tarts, like quiches, are one of those fabulous dishes that allow a ton of room for creativity. Though many recipes call for specific ingredients, you can include literally anything you want. Think of tarts and quiches like you would an omelet: whatever you want to eat goes in! The basic recipe for tarts is as follows:
- pastry crust (savory is best, but if you feel like eating pie crust, by all means…)
- protein (cheese, meat)
- vegetables (onions, tomatoes, etc.)
- fat (butter, olive oil, etc.)
- spices (fresh of dried)
Aaaaannd, that’s all folks!
You can make this process even simpler by buying your dough ahead of time in the refrigerated or freezer section of the grocery store. I decided to make my dough from scratch because I love a whole wheat crust and cooking is therapeutic for me, so I love to make everything by hand.
Here is a basic recipe for savory tart/quiche dough. Note this this makes a single crust; some recipes you’ll find will make enough for two crusts or for a double crust tart (think of a cherry pie with crust on top).
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 6 tbs cold butter, diced
- 1 egg
- 1 ½-2 tbs cold water
- dash of salt
Sift together flour and salt. Cut the pieces of butter into the flour with a pastry blender (or, if you’re like most people, a fork) until the butter is in tiny pea-sized bits. Note that the mixture will still be mainly flour. Add your egg and water and combine until dough is formed. This might be rather difficult, and it is more than likely that you’ll need to get your hands in there and use some elbow grease to knead the mixture until dough is formed. Then, on a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to a 12-inch circle and press into your tart pan (or pie tin, if you don’t have a tart pan). The basic recipe is technically for a 9-inch pan, but mine is 10-inch and it still works gloriously. Refrigerate for around 30 minutes and proceed!
Note: Some recipes call for PRE-baking your crust. This particular crust recipe does not require this, however the recipe I used for a wheat crust does. Be mindful.
This is a solid and multi-purposeful recipe that will get you far in the kitchen. When I made my crust, however, I used a whole-wheat and olive oil tart from the cooking blog Tarte du Jour and it was absolutely delicious!
Now that your shell is ready (either pre-baked or not), you get to play around with your ingredients. I decided to use the Tarte du Jour recipe for my tart; I used gruyere, tomatoes and caramelized onions from the crust recipe and then added a bed of fresh spinach along the bottom of the crust as well as some sautéed zucchini. To do this, I filled the pre-baked tart with fresh spinach before adding the caramelized onions. I then added the sautéed zucchini, followed by the custard, cheese and finally the tomato slices.
The final product was an absolutely light and lovely tart that exceeded all my brunchspectations. To go along with my tart, I prepared a simple salad and poured a glass of wine (although this last step is entirely optional). Depending how much you eat, this tart has the potential to feed you for at least a few meals, or several people at one meal. But when it comes to brunch, I don’t like to share.