Squash Tart: To be human is to ponder. Can squash be art? Is zucchini life?
One is a question, the other a metaphor. But, I had time to contemplate such things because I had a particularly spectacular walk down the hill to the Hollywood Farmers Market this morning. It was such a typically spring Southern California morning. Which means there was a touch of gray in the air; what some people erroneously (even on the news) call fog.
But really it is called a marine layer, or inversion layer. If you live anywhere near a very large body of water you probably know what I am talking about.
Here in Los Angeles, the inversion layer is particularly pronounced in spring. Some call it May Gray or June Gloom. But these are rather dreary monikers because this morning fog has its own special charm I think. Partly because you can count on it “burning off” by lunchtime, leaving you with some of the prettiest blue skies LA is capable of producing.
But what I really like best about these mornings is the special kind of “hush” that falls over the city. I don’t mean hush like quiet. LA is never quiet. There is always a certain low buzz or hum that permeates the atmosphere (11 million people are incapable of producing complete silence). But there is a gentleness in the atmosphere that envelopes everything.
So this is where my head was as I was walking through the Hollywood Farmers Market looking for inspiration for this week’s Market Matters. I have the gray morning to thank for what happened next too because there up ahead of me I saw a golden glow radiating through the envelope of gray. I think to myself. What can that golden glow be? I push my way through the throngs because I am drawn to the light. But the crowd is blocking my progress. Why do they always put the “free” samples right in front of the golden glow?
But I persevere, I push my way forward. I get quite a few Sunday morning scowls. Everyone thinks I am pushing my way ahead to taste yet another lovely strawberry. Why can’t I get them to see that I am drawn toward the light? The lovely golden light. The light that speaks of harps and angels. Am I the only one in the market who sees the light?
I feel a small rush of panic. Is this my moment? Should I head towards the light? Oh… but, I’m too young to die. I have too much living to do. Too much to say. Too much to feel. Too many places to go. Oh, but the light. The lovely, lovely light! I must get to it. I wish this woman, who is licking each strawberry clean before feeding it to her toddler, would step aside. The light is calling me. I am resigned. Wherever the light takes me, I shall follow…
But never fear. I am destined to inhabit this life and this body a bit longer because the golden halo I was drawn to is summer squash! Of course, I have been expecting it. But its beautiful golden glow takes me by surprise every year. Perfectly golden. Ripe and ready. I shall follow its bidding.
- 1 cup loosely packed mixed herbs (parsley, chervil, thyme, oregano etc)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons very good olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 4 summer squash (about 6 inches long)
- enough phyllo dough to make 8 layers (adjust the sheet count to your pan size)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Kalamata olives, to taste
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix the herbs and garlic together with the oil and enough salt and pepper to make you happy.
Unfold the phyllo dough; cover the dough with a very lightly damp paper towel.
Brush a quarter sheet sized baking pan with some of the melted butter. Press as many sheets as necessary to cover the bottoms and rims of an entire baking sheet. It is fine to overlap in the center. Lightly brush the dough with more butter.
Repeat, repeat. Including the butter between each layer. Until you have 8 complete layers. Which means my sheets and my size pan required 32 sheets of phyllo. Do you get my meaning?
Spread the herb and olive oil mixture over the bottom of the phyllo-lined pan. Layer the zucchini, in multiple layers, taking care to overlap each layer in an attractive manner. If you are using more than one kind or color (as I did) put your artist’s cap on and MAKE IT PRETTY!
Top the Squash Tart with the olives and crumbled feta.
Bake until well browned on the edges; about 30 minutes. Let the tart cool slightly before slicing. Garnish with more fresh herbs and a big drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm, or very soon after. This tart does not keep well, so keep eating until it is finished.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD