My favorite place in the city is the Italian Market. When I first moved to Philadelphia and slowly started meeting women local to the area, namely those that grew up here, upon giving my new address (we were in the process of moving) the first thing they commented was the luck of being so close to the market.
The sentiment isn’t shared by all, as it’s loud, gritty and oftentimes smelly, especially in summer. In winter fires blaze within trash cans and shoppers line up down the block to wait for the Italian specialties that have graced their tables since childhood.
Year-round, both sides of 9th street from Christian south to Washington are lined with produce stalls. It took me almost four years to find my groove here as the offerings are known to be on the verge of or already turned. Bring cash and get there at 8:30am. Anthony’s Coffee is there for a pick-me-up.
There are incredible deals to be had, however, so I urge you to try. While it took me four years to begin to understand the inner-workings of the market, it took me five to get the confidence to make sure I don’t get screwed, quite frankly. When eying a flat of berries, for example I take each pint and flip it over, open it up, and make sure that mold hasn’t already set in. If necessary I exchange a pint with one from another box. In my experience, no one could care less, so neither should you.
These week I visited the market alone meaning I had to exhibit a bit of restraint…meaning I purchased 14 pints of blueberries instead of 24. No matter, I had plans for these blue beauties. I walked home, grabbing a croissant en route, and proceeded to wash and consume one pint… down to 13 pints. Next, I set to work determining the fate of a hearty portion which of course needed to be transformed into something indulgent.
I’m a pie junkie, by now you know, but we’ve been trying to eat a little cleaner (by me I mean L). At any rate, this means getting creative in an effort to make something delicious that doesn’t feel in any way alternative.
Creating gluten-free baked goods without accumulating an armory of flours is no easy task. That’s where the almond crust comes in…an almond crust topped with the most perfect blueberry filling creating the tart of your dreams.
This Gluten-Free Blueberry Tart is perhaps my favorite thing I’ve made thus far in the way of fruit desserts. It’s absolutely delicious, indulgent enough for dessert and wholesome enough for breakfast the day after. If fact, it’s best served after a night of rest in the fridge. It doesn’t hurt that it’s absolutely beautiful.
Gluten-Free Blueberry Tart
Ingredients (Gluten Free Almond Crust):
2 ½ cups almond meal or flour (I purchase almond meal at Trader Joe’s)
1 pinch kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
6 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
To Make Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Prepare tart pan by greasing with butter and placing it on a cookie sheet.
In a large mixing bowl use your hands to mix together the almond meal, sugar, salt and cinnamon until combined. If there are big lumps, break them with your fingers.
Add the butter, and stir together by hand until the mixture has fully combined. You will end up with a sticky ball of dough
Turn the dough onto your tart pan. Using your fingers, pat it evenly in the pan, and up the sides. The goal is for uniform thickness, making sure dough reaches the pan’s crevices.
Place the tart gently in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and carefully mend any cracks along the tart’s edges then let cool completely (this is key!).
To Make Filling and Assemble Tart:
Set aside 1 cup of the prettiest berries for topping.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1/4 cup water and 1 1/2 cups berries to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries begin to break down, 3 to 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water; stir into berries in pan and keep mixing until combined to avoid clumps. Add lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, stirring, just until mixture begins to thicken, 30 to 60 seconds.
(Edited)Remove from heat. Stir in remaining berries. Immediately pour hot berry mixture into cooled tart shell, and smooth with a spatula.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour but best made the night before.
Carefully lift the tart out of the pan, leaving the center circle below (you will cut the tart directly on this). Grate lemon zest over top and serve.
Tip: It’s even better the next day served with a dollop of yogurt for breakfast