The Edgy Veggie

Vegan crostata is the holiday gift that comes wrapped in pastry

A vegan-friendly Christmas Crostata has a buttery crust that has no butter at all.
A vegan-friendly Christmas Crostata has a buttery crust that has no butter at all. For the Miami Herald

Not to be the anti-sugarplum fairy, but perhaps you’ve already had plenty of Christmas cookies, sweet treats and desserts. That’s OK, there’s still room for this pie.

Did someone say pie? Kinda. The French call it a galette. The Italians call it a crostata. In any language, it’s an edible gift, a simple freeform tart that cuts you some slack in the holiday kitchen and looks and tastes artisanal as anything.

The buttery (though butterless) pastry is forgiving to work with, delectable to eat and invites any number of fillings. If you want to load it up with fruit, chocolate, caramel and nuts, knock yourself out.

However, the Edgy Veggie wouldn’t be doing her duty without offering a savory veg-strutting option that tastes decadent even as it offers some body-bolstering nourishment.

This crostata contains two favorite secret weapons for wellness: whole grains in the crust and seasonal greens in the filling.

How much fun can a vegetable tart be? Pretty fun. For starters, you don’t have to wait for dessert to enjoy it. Fresh local tomatoes and kale give you that red and green look that naturally pretties up your Christmas table. That kale and tomatoes offer antioxidants to make you glow doesn’t hurt, either.

Olives add richness, and rosemary, warming and woodsy, smells like Christmas. Rosemary’s an evergreen — like your Christmas tree, only smaller. It lifts the spirit and kindles memory.

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray, love, remember,” says Ophelia in Hamlet, and if you don’t believe her, modern medicine is employing rosemary to help Alzheimer’s patients.

In the true spirit of Christmas giving, this crostata encourages you to treat your local farmer, too. The daily downpours of early December have flooded fields. As a result, many South Florida farmers may lose half to all of their crops this season — bad news for all of us. Buying up what there is of their hurried harvest supports them and rewards you with fresh produce — a win-win. It’s in keeping with Kwanzaa, too, which starts on Saturday and celebrates the first fruits of the harvest.

Enjoy the sweetness — and the sweets — of the holiday, but enjoy this pie of a different kind, too. It gift-wraps produce in pastry, it’s a treat for you, your family and your local farmer, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Ellen Kanner: @edgyveggie1

Sunday brunch

Verde Community Farm & Market hosts a Sunday brunch on Dec. 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the market, 12690 SW 280th St. in Homestead. Enjoy farm-to-table bites from chef Adri Garcia, including Verde’s organic produce and other local products. All proceeds go toward Verde’s on-site live-work program. $25. 305-257-2005.

Christmas Crostata

Recipe by Ellen Kanner. In that last gasp of the holiday harrieds, catch a break and feed yourself right with this Mediterranean-inspired crostata. Go all OCD decorating the holiday cookies, if you want, but this pie is about simple, rustic and homemade. You don’t need a pie pan, just a baking sheet. Roll out the pastry dough into a round, top with filling and fold edges in towards the middle. Serve by itself as a very impressive appetizer or as a main event with a beany or whole grain salad.

4 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat or rye flour

Pinch sea salt

7 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan butter, chilled and cut into 7 pieces

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced, about 1 good-sized sprig

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, halved and sliced into thin half-moon slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small bunch kale or chard, tough center stems removed, leaves chopped fine

3 tablespoons olives, black or green, your favorite, pitted and chopped

In a small bowl, mix together soy milk and cider vinegar. The mixture will clabber and become like buttermilk. Don’t panic, this is what it’s supposed to do. Set aside and let it be. In a large mixing bowl, sift unbleached flour, whole wheat flour and sea salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the Earth Balance and work in quickly, so everything comes together and becomes coarse, like damp sand. Pour in clabbered soy milk and mix together with a light hand, until it just coalesces into a dough. Wrap well in plastic wrap or foil and chill for 2 hours or up to several days.

Pour the halved grape tomatoes into a medium-sized nonreactive bowl, such as glass or ceramic. Add fresh chopped rosemary, sea salt and pepper and drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss lightly and set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and minced garlic. Stir and saute for a few minutes or until the onions start to darken. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the onions, stirring often, for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they darken, caramelize and smell sweet. Add the chopped kale or chad by the handful. Give everything a stir. The greens should start to wilt after a minute or two. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring gently for another few minutes, until the greens are tender and reduced in volume but still keep their bright color. Allow to cool slightly.

To assemble: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle generously with flour. Roll out pastry onto the floured parchment, forming a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. Round is relative, round-ish will do. Sprinkle chopped olives onto the center of the pastry, creating a circle about 6 inches across, leaving a 3-inch border of exposed pastry all the way around. Cover the olives with the greens, smoothing gently. Top the greens with the halved tomatoes. Drizzle any juices left in the bowl onto the tomatoes.

Gently lift one edge of the exposed dough and fold towards the center, to the outer edge of the greens, creating a loose pleat of pastry. Continue working all the way around, so all the pastry is folded inward. Leave about 3 to 5 inches of tomatoes peeking through the center. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crostata is golden brown. Let the crostata rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Slice into wedges and enjoy.

Yield: 6 servings

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