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Tuesday dinner with Lost in Arles

By Ann | July 16, 2013

Savory Provençal tarte. Post on www.annmah.net.

In the dog days of summer (and we’re officially in the dog days, right?) all I want is to escape my stuffy apartment and picnic outside (even if sitting on the ground makes my butt hurt). I’m so happy I’ve discovered this piquant, vegetable-filled Provençal tart from Heather of the beautiful blog, Lost in Arles. It whips together in minutes, involves only a modicum of baking (which you can do in the morning, while the temps are cooler), transports easily to your picnic spot, and is shared beautifully.

Heather is an American travel writer who lives in Arles with her partner, Rémi, and two adorable Golden Retrievers, Ben and Kipling. After visiting her blog — with its gorgeous photographs of Roman ruins, bright market produce, golden French countryside, and two frolicking pups — I always feel like I’ve taken a mini vacation to Provence. And in May, I was lucky enough to actually stop in Arles, meet Heather and glimpse a bit of the beautiful town she calls home. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome her and share a few of her photos and a gorgeous summery recipe!

Photo from Heather Robinson

Provençal fields. Photo from Heather Robinson.

Arles. Photo from Heather Robinson.

Legumes. Photo from Heather Robinson.

Provence Time
by Heather Robinson of Lost in Arles

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful?” Um, nope. Don’t hate me because I have time? Ahh, maybe. It is precious goods for all of us but in Provence it is the unforgettable melody — along with light’s lyrics — that makes this region sing. We stretch it out with upturned faces towards a swash-buckle of blue above even as the winter Mistral winds roar around us, just as we clink and reclink for l’apéro that can last until the light begins to fade at summer’s ten p.m. I may be the only non-wealthy American in the region (or so I like to joke) but the bonus of these days makes me feel rich.

It can be tricky business, this Provence Time. Shops can close for four hours for lunch plus la sieste and a repairman dawdled for five weeks — five weeks! — to repair a broken spring on my dryer door. What a difference from the beat, beat, beat on the tom-tom or the passive-aggressive waltz of New York City and Paris, my former homes. But it is solidly present, right down to the two thousand year old stones of the Roman Arena. I brush the back of my hand against them as I stroll with my two Golden Retrievers each evening. Hello, friend.

As I am not working much right now, just building away at my blog Lost in Arles, time I have and it doesn’t have me. After loving meeting Ann and her friend Katia (I think that quite a few of you that also leave comments here have met Ann as well but for those of you wondering, yes, she is just as fabulous as you could hope and the type of person that leaves you immediately whining, “Why, oh why doesn’t she live closer?”), Ann did me the kindness of asking me to share a Tuesday Dinner. Les heures or lack of them is the first thing that popped into my head but truth be told, my recipe is fueled by more than a dash of laziness. Beh, oui. Perhaps living in Provence has had a greater effect on me than I know?

On a typical weeknight:
My dogs, Ben and Kipling, get me up from my computer by barking at me to feed and walk them by six at the latest. The scenery in this old town is gorgeous and I never take it for granted. When I come back, I will pour myself a glass of wine and finish up whatever writing or photo editing I have left before tackling dinner.

On her favorite kitchen staples:
I am really lucky to have two excellent markets in Arles— and as this is the Rhone Valley, there is always fresh-from-the-grower veggies on offer. With the great violet garlic, real butter and spices collected from our travels…well, you can always make something tasty out of that.

If only Arles had…
France is wonderful but oh what I wouldn’t give for Chinese or burrito delivery! Mais, hélas, no dice in this non-chic corner of Provence. And we cook both lunch and dinner, so I truly do run out of inspiration. That is when we indulge in a casse-croute, the little picnicy bits of this and that—saucisson, cornichons, baguette et fromage! 

Savory Provençal tarte without cheese. Post on www.annmah.net.

Note from Ann: Heather’s recipe is delightfully au pif (off the cuff), so I took a few liberties  and used the contents of my kitchen. I added chopped mint instead of thyme, grilled the courgettes, and roasted the red pepper instead of sauteeing it. The tart came together so quickly, I made a second one, just like that, with the extra ingredients!

Savory Provençal tart 
by Heather Robinson

I sliced a red pepper into strips along with a coarsely chopped onion, put it into a sauté on medium heat in olive oil…let le robot do the work on the zucchini…added that in along with copious amounts of garlic (I can eat them like bon-bons like old Sicilian men, so for me it was five cloves) plus the fresh thyme we gather regularly in the Alpilles. Meanwhile I had been pre-baking a pâte feuilletée, yep, store bought puff pastry dough at 200°C for five minutes (I butter the dish instead of using oil to get the bottom of the pastry dough nice and crunchy). Then I spread a generous amount of caviar des tomates or sun-dried tomato spread (this is the kicker) plus a jar of my favorite spicy Arrabiata tomato sauce on top…added the lightly sautéed veggies plus a few fresh tomatoes for bite, more thyme…all was generously covered with a mixture of shredded emmenthal and parmesan, baked until melted et voila!

Even the foodies at the luncheon were happy. I was too. This tart is fast, crazy easy, very inexpensive to make and authentic enough to please even the Provençaux in Provence. You can easily adapt this for the seasons too. This cheesy version was baked for a chilly rainy day, but for these warmer climes, I also leave out the cheese entirely, replacing it with strips of anchovies and dots of black olives. As you wish, either way, tasty. Plus, as an added bonus, nearly all of the steps can be done with a glass of wine in hand. That plus if you put on a little old-timey jazz in the background, well, it is practically a mini-vacay to the South of France. Promise.

Pup. Photo from Heather Robinson.

(All non-tart photos courtesy of Heather Robinson.)

Topics: Tuesday dinner | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Tuesday dinner with Lost in Arles”

  1. Parisbreakfast Says:
    July 16th, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Absolute heaven!
    Makes me want to get on the TGV this minute!
    Merci pour tous

  2. Parisbreakfast Says:
    July 16th, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Such beautiful doggies too…

  3. CK Says:
    July 16th, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Arles looks very, er, fetching! Seriously, thanks for all this — Heather makes Provence sound even more appealing than I know it is.

  4. Teresa Says:
    July 16th, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I am very happy to have found both you and Lost in Arles. I lived in Arles for 8 months, working with a chef, helping him with his B&B, cooking lessons and visits with clients to local bakers, goat cheese makers, olive oil producers, etc. I will always feel as if Arles is my home away from home. Thank you for this post and sharing Heather’s recipe!

  5. Emma Says:
    July 16th, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Such a blissful life and those gorgeous doggies!

    And I must make a Provençal tart when summer comes around, it looks so delicious.

  6. Shut Up and Cook Says:
    July 17th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Love those pups!

    And this recipe looks delicious to boot.

    Thanks to Ann for always introducing us to such great other writers and foodies!

  7. Art & Lemons Says:
    July 17th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Tarts are my favorite dishes to make and this savory Provençal tart looks stunning along with the sweeping view of Provence. Thanks for introducing me to Heather’s blog!

  8. Laoch Says:
    July 17th, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Looks scrumptious but I must add: more Garlic!

  9. Julie in Provence Says:
    July 17th, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Heather, what time is dinner tomorrow night? I’ll be there! In fact, I think I’ll come for lunch and stay on, if you don’t mind. I like how you cook!

  10. glamour drops Says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 12:24 am

    This tart has Heather’s personality written all over it! A bit of sweetness, a bit of richness, a bit of history, a bit of modern, a bit of humour, a bit of wisdom and all up sounds quite delicious!!

    As a long time follower of Heather’s blog, and a friend now too, I was delighted to follow her link here to your own interesting blog.

    Greetings from Down Under!

  11. Gallivanta Says:
    July 18th, 2013 at 5:08 am

    All so beautiful and delicious. And I am sure those lovely dogs enjoy a piece of the crust if they can get it away from the humans.

  12. Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.) Says:
    July 20th, 2013 at 7:38 am

    MY kinda tart :) Thanks for the intro to this wonderful blog. Following now!

  13. Heather in Arles Says:
    July 21st, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Oh my goodness! I hadn’t seen ALL of these wonderful comments! Good thing I came back to check. ;) And I am so excited to have some new readers thanks to you, Ann. I know their standards are high…

    Teresa, I don’t know if you will see this–but was that with Eric? If so, isn’t he a wonderful person? I haven’t seen him in ages but we still love his cookbook.

  14. Anne Raynaud Says:
    September 5th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Finally got round to making this tart . It is delicious; I always have these veg and herbs around, but wouldn’t have thought of the sun dried tomato sauce, nor the arrabiata. Great combination. And cooking the pastry for 5 minutes before filling it has at last solved my problem with frozen or chilled pastry: how to prevent the base from sogginess.

  15. Ella Coquine Says:
    October 23rd, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    How did I miss this lovely post back in July?! Well I’m glad that Heather recently linked back to it, otherwise I would not have seen it.

    Oh dear Heather…je t’adore. This tarte looks exquisite. You instantly had me at “all was generously covered with a mixture of shredded emmenthal and parmesan” Generously. YES. I can’t wait to give it a try!

    Thank you Ann for featuring one of my favorite French blogueuses!

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