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Strawberry Basil Tarts

January 29, 2015

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Most, if not all of you will be able to relate to the mind’s seemingly endless dance between the past and the future (ie:  Did I pick up the dry cleaning yesterday?  Where should I take my next vacation?  Did I turn off the coffee maker this morning?). I’m learning a lot about our mind’s habits and thought processes through The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Although I haven’t even made it to the halfway point, I can already say with confidence that it’s the most enlightening and life-changing book I’ve read in years. As the title suggests, it’s a book about Now, the Present. What the title doesn’t reveal about the Now, and what the text explores in length, is how we are almost never actually in it.  Sad, right?  Though it’s important to be focused on the present, it’s natural for the mind to wander.  After all, we’d never be able to remember anything or make plans if we were constantly in the Now.


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Since starting the book, I’ve been paying closer attention to how often I can catch my mind wandering (and more specifically what it’s wandering to).  It shouldn’t come as a shocker for me to share that it’s often about food.  What do I have in my fridge?  Where should Robin and I meet for lunch?  I wonder if the wait at State Bird Provisions has diminished at all?   You get the point.  I’ll be in the middle of eating my breakfast, but my mind is preoccupied with what I’m going to do for dinner.  And I’m never more distracted by all-things-edible than when I’m perusing a farmers market.


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If food is my religion, then farmers markets are my place of worship (and I make for one devoted follower).   In browsing the various stalls, my mind buzzes with the endless opportunities of flavor pairings and recipe inspiration.  I become physically and emotionally charged by the colorful, flavor-saturated produce freshly harvested from local farms.


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Winter is notoriously regarded as the least exciting of the farmers market seasons, but that never stops me from finding few seasonal treats.  This past weekend’s star item were strawberries. Or more accurately the sweetest, most robust strawberries I can remember ever tasting in the history of all time.


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I picked up 3 baskets, and allowed my imagination to wander with possibilities. I’ve always appreciated how strawberries and basil complement each other in cocktails and salads, but the sweetness of these berries called for a dessert.  Determined to incorporate basil into the creation, I decided to make strawberry basil tarts.


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Wanting the basil flavor to complement but not overpower the strawberries, I blended the basil leaves into the crust with the help of my trusty Vitamix. These bad boys turned out just as aesthetically pleasing as they were delicious. And the best part was how easy they were to make!  You can make little ones like I did (which are great for individual servings or to present at a tea), or go with a traditional larger size.  The versatility of this dish makes it a great go-to for garden potlucks and formal dinner parties alike.


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Bon appétit


Strawberry Basil Tarts


1 basket of fresh strawberries, washed and sliced

6 large basil leaves

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar (split into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)

1 1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cubed

8 oz packaged cream cheese, softened

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed (6 oz)

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp fresh lime juice



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Using a food processor or Vitamix blender, mix the confectioners’ sugar, flour, butter and basil leaves thoroughly.  Basil leaves should be thoroughly blended into the mixture

Press the dough into the bottom and along the sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom (either a large 12-inch or 6 4-inch pans)

Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool

In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and vanilla together until smooth and thoroughly whipped.  Spread evenly into the cooled crust(s)

Spread the sliced strawberries evenly across the top of the tart(s), starting with the outermost layer using the larger slices, and moving inward using smaller slices as you go

Combine and stir the limeade, cornstarch, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat.  Continue to stir until it becomes clear and thick, which will take 2-5 minutes.  Remove from heat

Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the tart with the glaze (you won’t use all of it)

Place the tart in the refrigerator until 15-20 minutes before it’s ready to be served.  It will hold well for up to 5 days

Just before serving, garnish with fresh basil


One Comment leave one →
  1. Cici Hoover permalink
    January 29, 2015 6:16 pm

    As a most fortunate ‘taster’ of these tarts, may I say that they are out of this world?!! Not only are they beautiful of presentation, but scrumptious beyond belief!!

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