We don’t normally get fruit in our CSA, except for the bulk share (read: giant flat) of strawberries early in the season. Our CSA values locally sourced food over volume, so even though our CSA isn’t year round, I rather like that they give us only what they grow on their farm and fruit isn’t really on their crop list. That said, they have started offering a fruit share this year, distributing fruit from local orchards. We didn’t take advantage of it, being uncertain as to what the quality might be like. But when this year’s strawberry crop flopped and we took our first taste of the fruit that they substituted for our bulk share, let’s just say that I think we are totally regretting that decision.
In lieu of strawberries, we received 2 pounds of donut peaches and an additional 2 pounds of nectarines. The peaches were sweet and juicy– we’re talking stand over the sink juicy, so good that John declared them to be “life changing peaches.” I can read between the lines: that meant “you are not allowed to cook or alter these peaches in any way.”
Not to be misleading, but the nectarines were just as sweet, juicy, and delicious. The only difference was that something had to be done with them because the sheer volume of our CSA share that week was so overwhelming, the nectarines might spoil and go to waste if I didn’t use them in some way to extend their shelf life. When I sat them next to some plums I had bought a few days before, their contrast in colors told me that they wanted to play together. How can I ignore reasonable requests for fun from delicious fruit?
A crostata seemed like the best way to fulfill that request. A free form tart, it’s rustic and easy to make. I made a crust using ground almonds, flour, butter and sugar. I wanted a creamy layer to separate the crust from the fruit but wanted to keep this crostata light in feel so a rich and sweet pastry cream didn’t seem right. Instead, I remembered how delicious these pies were, (inspired by this recipe) and knew that creme fraiche would not only make a nice creamy, custardy layer but it would be wonderful flavor-wise since its tang would highlight the fruits’ sweetness without making the dessert too sweet. I added just a little bit of brown sugar and some lemon zest to the creme fraiche before spreading it on the crust. Slices of plum and nectarine were shingled on top of that then I folded in the sides of the crust. For a final bit of crunch and to intensify the almond flavor, I crumbled amaretti cookies on top of the freshly baked crostata.
It sure was difficult waiting for the crostata to completely cool down before cutting into this, but wait we had to do to give the creme fraiche time to set. It was so worth the wait though. The crust was nutty with the texture of shortbread. The creme fraiche was like a light custard, slightly sour with a bright lemony flavor that paired nicely with the firm slices of sweet plums and nectarines. Take advantage of this time of the season with the wide variety of plums available by making this crostata. I promise you that the memory of eating this will carry you through winter until next summer.
Note: Amaretti are crisp yet chewy almond and merengue Italian cookies. I bought mine for just a few dollars from an Italian specialty store. If you can’t find them, you can substitute crumbled almond flavored biscotti, almond cookies, or even Nilla wafers mixed with toasted almond slices.
- 1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
- 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour (plus up to an additional 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
- 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- 7 oz creme fraiche
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 3 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 3 ripe plums, pitted and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 1/2 cup amaretti cookies, crushed in a plastic bag into crumbs
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the cup of almonds. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles grated parmesan cheese with pieces no bigger than small-sized peas. Turn on processor and add 1/8 cup of ice water until dough comes together, starting to form a ball. Add more water if necessary to help dough form, but do so sparingly, no more than a tablespoon at a time. Turn contents out onto a lightly floured surface and press together until smooth. Form into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface (or on a piece of parchment paper) until it is 12 inches in diameter, adding more flour if necessary to help dough roll out smoothly. If dough was rolled out on parchment, simply lift the parchment and set it on a baking sheet; otherwise, remove dough to a Silpat lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together creme fraiche, light brown sugar, and lemon zest. Spread the mixture on top of the tart dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Shingle the plum and nectarine slices decoratively on top then fold in the borders of the dough. Lightly brush the crust with egg and water mixture. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until dough is light brown and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Sprinkle amaretti crumbs on top before slicing into wedges. Yields 6-8 slices.
CSA Count: 1