“At Mesa’s Edge” is the first book ever written by Eugenia Bone. It’s a memoir with recipes.
I discovered it after purchasing her cookbook entitled, “Well Preserved,” which turns out is the third book she has authored.
I’ve featured this cookbook before. It’s in this book where I discovered my most favorite guilty pleasure, Italian Foriana Sauce.
It’s a mixture of nuts, raisins and garlic, seasoned with oregano. It’s a unique and delicious compliment to just about any cheese, shown in the photo below with blue cheese. I can tell you that this stuff is to die for. In fact, it would be my last meal if I had a choice in the matter.
It is because of Ms. Bone and her Foriana Sauce, which I’ve still never seen in any other cookbook, that I sought out other books she’d written. I wondered what other secrets she had to reveal in the way of recipes from her father’s Italian heritage.
What I discovered was a completely different kind of book. “At Mesa’s Edge” is about her journey and experience moving west, out of New York City, where she was perfectly happy living a big city lifestyle. Her husband, however, had always yearned for a life in the Rockies, which really seemed foreign to her. But out of deep love for him, she relented. My husband obviously doesn’t have this level of love for me, or we’d be living in the mountains, too. But anyway, they pretty much packed up and moved to a beautiful piece of land in western Colorado.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, because it’s a delightful read. It certainly makes me glad I wasn’t living back in the pioneer days, which is practically the lifestyle Ms. Bone endured in the beginning few years of their homesteading. Throughout her trials and tribulations, a beautiful story unfolds, as well as an appreciation for their 45-acre parcel of Colorado. There were many learning curves, from dealing with local varmints, including four-legged as well as two-legged ones, gardening off of the land, and creating a home from a dilapidated structure. Intertwined are some wonderful recipes that are meaningful and significant in some way to the author. Because of those stories, the recipes become special to the reader, as well.
I was intrigued to make her leek tart for this post for three reasons:
1. There’s no cheese in this tart,
2. There’s cilantro pesto on the tart, and
3. It’s like a quiche, but with fewer eggs.
So I bring you my only slightly altered version of this tart.
Leek and Cilantro Pesto Tart
adapted from At Mesa’s Edge
1 – 10″ by 1 1/4″ pie pan
1 chilled pie crust dough
1 egg yolk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks, cleaned, sliced crosswise
Cilantro Pesto, see below
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out the pie dough and place it in the pie pan. The dimensions of the pie pan I used worked out perfectly.
Using a fork, pierce the dough all over the bottom of the pie pan, then chill it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake the tart.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, cream, and salt. Set aside.
Prepare the leeks by trimming the stems, removing the leathery outer leaves, then slicing them in half lengthwise. Slice the leeks crosswise, then place them in a large bowl. Fill the bowl up with cool water.
Shake the leek slices around to dislodge any silt, and then remove them from the water, using your hands, and place them on a clean dish towel or on paper towels to drip dry.
Add the butter to a large skillet and heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks.
Sauté them for at least 10 minutes to soften, without any major browning. If they begin to brown, turn down the heat.
Let the leeks cool and make the cilantro pesto, if you don’t have any already. I know that I have some in the freezer, but I’ve been so bad in the past about labeling my jars, that I have no idea which one is the cilantro version of pesto, so I used my version of Ms. Bone’s recipe, which is as follows:
My Cilantro Pesto for this recipe, which more more garlicky than hers
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, cleaned and dried
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic
Place all of the above ingredients in a blender jar.
Process until fairly smooth.
Assembling the tart:
Begin by placing the cooled, sautéed leeks in the bottom of the pie pan.
Pour in the whisked egg-cream mixture.
Using a spoon, spoon out blobs of the pesto and place on top of the tart. The pesto doesn’t have to cover the whole top. I used approximately 1/2 cup of pesto, if not more.
Smooth the blobs out as you can, then place the pie pan on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes. It doesn’t seem like very long, but the tart is 1″ in thickness only.
Let the tart cool, then slice and serve.
I served the warm tart for lunch, with a tomato and red onion salad.
The tart would also be good at room temperature, or even chilled, since there’s no cheese in it.
The sweetness of the leeks and the sharpness of the garlicky pesto were so perfect together, along the the quiche-like creaminess of the tart base.
The tart would also be a good brunch dish, along with a mimosa. I’ll definitely make this again!
notes: Well Preserved was nominated for a James Beard award. Her second book, which I need to purchase, is called Italian Family Dining. It was written with her father, artist and cookbook author Edward Giobbi. This is her fourth book: