Of Tarts and Men

It is hard to change eating habits. 

The diet industry is littered with shackle devices like partitioned containers and plate dividers, blenders with supernatural powers, and boxed frozen dinners with poultry the size of a small child’s sock, and about as delicious.  Not to mention weight loss pills that make people behave like Richard Simmons on a nicotine gum bender.

It usually does not have to be that complicated.

I think—for those of us who are not plagued with a complicated illness—we really just need to sit down with someone who is not halfway insane and brainstorm on how to eat a decent breakfast, or lunch.  It has to be somewhat more enjoyable than wanting to hurl yourself down a flight of stairs.  And less complicated.

In many cases, this excludes tofu steaks and quinoa pilaf.

Which is fine.  Treating your body a little more kindly in the preventative department does not have to include a trip to the co-op.  Unless, of course, you find soy and bulk bins of nutritional yeast irresistible.  I think it is safe to assume many people do not.

This tart, however, is a different story.  The first thing you may notice is that its bottom is composed wholly from whole wheat flour.  The addition of olive oil adds a pleasant suppleness to the dough and offers up some merit without vacuuming all evidence of joy out of the room.

You may also notice the inclusion of cured meat.  I assure this does not fly in the face of recent warnings from the World Health Organization, nor will it poison your colon if you approach with a modicum of reason.

It really should not be terribly controversial to suggest digesting two ounces of bacon—or roughly four slices—a day might increase your risk of cancer.  Nor should it be surprising that many people simultaneously find pig parts irresistible.  There is a way we all can meet in the middle on this.  It is likely somewhere between asceticism and Gargantua.  The amount of prosciutto in this tart fits that description.

If you are someone who is averse to pie crust making, you should find the process here comforting. It bears greater resemblance to those crumbled cookie bottoms, which—at least for me—result in much less swearing and sweating in the kitchen.  In fact, it is a project you could probably do with a small child.

The tart can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and can keep for a couple of days, if chilled. Pair it with a salad or a sliced apple and you have found a respectable meal. A meal that will not use up precious brain power to interpret and execute. 

And, perhaps more importantly, a meal that you will look forward to eating.

Vegetable and Prosciutto Tart with Olive Oil Whole Wheat Crust


for the crust

¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more for greasing)
1/3 cup chilled whole or lowfat milk

for the filling

1½ to 2 cups bite-sized pieces of leftover cooked vegetables (e.g. broccoli, caramelized onions, or these tomatoes)
1 tsp olive oil
2 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 large eggs
½ cup plain whole Greek yogurt
¼ cup whole or lowfat milk
1 ounce cheddar or Swiss cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Dijon mustard


For the crust:

Lightly grease a 9 to 10-inch (or similar-sized—I used a 13½ x 4-inch) tart pan with a removable bottom with olive oil; set aside. (A springform pan may also work.)

If you have a food processor: combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of the mixer; process 5 to 10 seconds.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the oil and milk. Pour the liquid into the flour and pulse 3 to 5 times, or until a soft ball of dough forms.

If you do not have a food processor: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt; make a well in the center.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the oil and milk. Pour the liquid into the well and stir from the center with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour until a soft dough forms.

Dump the dough into your prepared pan and press it firmly, evenly distributing the mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the pan to form a 1-inch rim.  Prick the crust with a fork; cover and refrigerate 1 hour (or overnight).

To cook the crust, set the oven to 375 degrees.  Place a piece of parchment paper on the crust and fill it with pie weights or dried beans (you can save and reuse the beans for additional tarts). This will help the crust bake properly.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the crust just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Place on a wire rack to cool and remove the weighted parchment paper. (If you will be preparing the tart right away, keep the oven set to 375 degrees.)

For the tart:

Set the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a small sauté pan on medium heat, add the oil and the prosciutto and cook until the prosciutto becomes crispy, about 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the eggs, yogurt, milk, cheese, and black pepper and beat lightly with a fork.

Brush the crust with mustard and sprinkle with the cooked prosciutto.  Spread the vegetables over top and then pour in the custard.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes (you may want to place a sheet pan underneath if your pan is very filled).  The tart is done when the filling is set and slightly puffed and the top is lightly golden brown.

Let cool 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Makes 4 servings

-The tart pictured above features caramelized onions plus ½ tsp lavender (mix the herb in the liquid custard before cooking). The lavender is lovely and adds a slight perfume that—when dosed in small amounts—compliments the meat and the onions. You could easily substitute rosemary (Herbes de Provence would be nice too) or simply leave off the herbs all together.

- I have no problem eating any leftovers cold.  You could also reheat them by warming at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.