We got these yellow cherry tomatoes in our CSA last week.

Pretty cute, huh? They were so sweet, and deserved nothing less than a spectacular presentation. I figured there must be some way to take my very favorite savory tart dough, which I use (probably overuse, actually) for my weekly quiches. I found lots of recipes for simple cherry tomato tarts on pate brisee, but I thought any cherry tomato tart would be greatly improved by a great big gob (please click on the word gob) of goat cheese.

Which it was. NOMS. Making this tart also afforded me the opportunity to express my anal retentive artistic tendencies by arranging the tomatoes in a visually appealing but not obviously intentional pattern.

Well, this was just great. I mean, really great. My only regret is that I did not parbake (to pop it in the oven for just a couple minutes without any filling, then take it out of the oven, place the fillings in, and continue with baking) the crust. It was just a tad bit soggy and I think parkbaking for just 3 or 5 minutes would have crisped things up nicely.

I guess regret is a pretty mild term, in this case. How can you regret this, really?

More on cherry tomatoes: Sweet Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes

ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE TART (adapted from Food & Wine’s Cherry Tomato Tart with Basil)

Serves 4-6 as a side or appetizer

Added note: I’ve made this many times now, and parkbaking for just 3-5 minutes before cooking crisps things up nicely. Also, I wanted to note that the goat cheese also prevents the crust from getting soggy. It forms a layer between the tomatoes and the crust that the juice released from baking can’t penetrate.

OLIVE OIL DOUGH  (adapted from Swiss Chard Pie from Everyday Food)

1.25 cups flour (I like to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour)

1/4 cup cold water

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

TART

6 oz goat cheese

2 pints cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Coarse ground salt & pepper

1/4 cup chopped basil

Recipe

First, take the goat cheese out of the refrigerator and leave it on the counter for an hour or two to get soft and pliable. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Next, make the olive oil dough. Stir all olive oil dough ingredients with a fork to combine, then turn out onto a work surface and knead one minute. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature, 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, toss the cherry tomatoes with EVOO and coarse ground salt and pepper.

Julienne the basil and set aside, for now.

Grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom or 9-inch pie dish with butter. Roll out the dough and place into tart pan. Crumble goat cheese evenly over dough surface. Arrange tomatoes in tart. Bake in oven 25-40 minutes until crust is brown and tomatoes are blistered. After baking, sprinkle with basil. Enjoy.

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Will and I planned to hike a 14er today with two of my friends, but weather destroyed our outdoorsy plans. As a substitue we went out to lunch, went on a brewery tour, and then spent a luxurious 4 hours at my most favorite restaurant during their all-night happy hour. It was a great day. Perhaps the greatest moment is when the waiter mistakenly thought we ordered another round of beets. He said, “Oh, you guys didn’t order these? Well, would anyone like them?” And, though I was full of wine and tapas, my hand shot up like a rocket and I consumed my SECOND order of beets for the night.

In case you couldn’t tell by my story, or by simply knowing me and my accompanying oddities, I am, unabashedly, a beet freak. If you are jealous of my Beet Love and would like to like beets, this would be a good gateway salad to get you on the beet train. In the difficult-to-find but absolutely-wonderful Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters recommends creating a salad with beets, orange zest, sherry vinegar, and thyme. I thought a bit of goat cheese couldn’t hurt that lovely equation one bit, and I must say that was right. The only problem with beets is the stains they leave. Check me out.

HAWT. Out, damn’d spot! I always forget that even after I wash my hands I the beet stain still spreads to my dishtowels, silverware, arms. So how much do you think I liked this salad?

This is me licking the bowl. I am a classy broad. As Will said, “You know, Elizabeth, most people don’t just drink the leftover beet juice…” I am not most people. Clearly.

More on beets: Beets and Beet Greens

BEET SALAD WITH ORANGE ZEST AND GOAT CHEESE (adapted from Beet Salad from Chez Panisse Vegetables)

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

6 small beets (scrubbed, tails cut off, greens cut off, about 1/2 inch stem left on beet)

3 splashes sherry vinegar

Zest of 1 orange

2 oz goat cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

Preheat oven to 375. Place beets in center of a large, long piece of aluminum foil. Fold the edges over the beets and crimp them, creating a foil pocket. Open a small corner of the pocked and dump in a 1/2 tablespoon water for every two beets. Place beets-in-foil on a baking sheet. Bake beets in oven for 40-50 minutes, until fork tender. Allow beets to cool.

Peel with vegetable peeler when cool. Cut beets into quarters or eights, depending on size of the beets. Pop them in the fridge or freeze to get slightly cold, if you like. Add zest, goat cheese, sherry vinegar, and salt & pepper to beets. Toss beet salad. Enjoy.

Make this. Seriously. Make it right now. Even if you are not a zucchini-lover (Will and I are not), you need to make this. It is amazing. Healthier and more delicious (the latter much more important than the former) than its  straight-up spaghetti counterpart. Even if you think, “Ugh, a dietetic version of spaghetti.” you should still make it. Because it is one of the greatest things I have ever made. No lie.

I had some goat cheese in my fridge so I substituted it for the parmesan called for in Michael Chiarello and smittenkitchen’s recipes. It worked beautifully, and I have difficulty believing that parmesan could be any better. The goat cheese is subtle enough to be balance the delicate zucchini instead of overpowering it. Plus, the creaminess from melted goat cheese is an added bonus.

Well, what more is there to say? Oh, I know. If you look closely in the first picture you can see the worst sunburn of my life. To the armpit. Ouch.

ZUCCHINI SPAGHETTI WITH GOAT CHEESE (adapted from Michael Chiarello’s Spaghetti Squared: Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Zucchini and smittenkitchen.com’s Zucchini Strand Spaghetti)

Ingredients

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 lb whole-wheat spaghetti

3/4 lb zucchini

1/4 cup EVOO

2 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

6 oz goat cheese, plus a bit more for sprinkling

Recipe

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.

Cut zucchini with the fine french fry cutter on a mandoline or (if you don’t have a mandoline like me) peel into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Season with salt and pepper. Add spaghetti to boiling water.

While you wait for the spaghetti to cook, heat 1/4 cup EVOO in a small skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add garlic and saute briefly until light brown. Add the red pepper flakes. Quickly mix in the basil and remove from the heat. When the spaghetti is al dente, drain through a colander.

Pour pasta into a warm serving bowl. Add the zucchini, garlic/basil mixture, and the goat cheese. Toss well. Serve with a few crumbles of goat cheese on top.

We had a few days glorious days of Spring out here last week. 60 degree weather, blue skies, birds chirping. It was the peak of loveliness. Today is 40 degrees and cloudy, but I’m still fantasizing about the days of sun and hiking and BBQs and… the farmer’s market of course! Those fantastic days where you can just sit on down with a bunch of delicious produce and just eat a meal raw fruit and vegetables. Or I could, anyway. In honor of my longing, I thought I’d share with you my favorite late Spring/early Summer meal. It comes together quickly and is simple and good.

All my favorite things to eat are simple and good. Unfussy, I suppose. A piece of chocolate. Fresh baked bread with butter. Fresh tomatoes with a little salt eaten like apples. Plain olives. I love complex flavor palates, but when you really come down to it, all I want it something well made and uncomplicated. Just like this lovely meal. Enjoy!

OPEN-FACED ROASTED TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE SANDWICH

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

4 roasted tomato halves

6 oz goat cheese

1 loaf crusty french demi baguette

Olive oil

4 large fresh basil leaves

Salt & Pepper

Recipe

Slice tomatoes into halves. Make roasted tomatoes for the sandwich and make roasted asparagus for the side. Place loaf of french bread in the oven for last 5 minutes while tomatoes and asparagus cook so bread becomes nice and hot. Take bread out of oven, cut in half. Then slice bread lengthwise. Spread each piece with goat cheese. Salt and pepper the goat cheese generously. Place basil leaves on top of goat cheese. Place roasted tomatoes on top of goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy!