I am a real foodie now. I have committed to buying locally and seasonally. So long sweet pineapples; see you sporadically. Most expats have their sentimental reasons that keep them in France. A perfect café crème, a favorite terrace, or unpasteurized cheese can easily outweigh all the persistence, courage, and patience it takes to build a life in Paris.
But for me, the market continually reminds me why I chose this life. Twice a week, I roam the marché with the simple intention of finding something to fill my stomach. It always ends up a sensory adventure, observing the changing colors of the produce and the craftsmanship, passion, and theatrics of the vendors. At the end of the day, the market is promptly cleaned up and hosed down without a trace of the bustling, haggling, crate-strewn bi-weekly tradition, but when I unpack my shopping bags at home, the experience continues with how I reinterpret and enjoy the morning’s finds.
Even though the grey-sky season is starting to dawn on Paris, don’t reach for the pumpkin spice just yet. September is a surprisingly prime time at the market. As the autumnal transition begins, juicy stone fruits, berries, tomatoes, and corn continue to play amongst their thick-skinned successors. For fellow locavores, the September harvest includes everything from quinces, figues, grapes, peaches, plums, watermelon, melon, pears, apples, blackberries, cucumbers, artichoke and corn to pumpkin, celery, pepper, zucchini, eggplant, shallots, garlic, fennel, carrots, leeks, Swiss Chard, turnips, radishes, cabbage, and tomatoes.
Furthermore, in celebration of the changing seasons, there is no greater sendoff to summer than this tomato and leek tart. The sugary-sweet cherry tomatoes, a nod to summer, caramelize into a bed of leeks, a savory taste of what is to come. But in the local and seasonal spirit, this recipe is completely adaptable to the biweekly discoveries of the marché. Enjoy !
Cherry Tomato & Leek Tart
2 leeks, thinly sliced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme, basil, chives, chervil, or mint)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 handful black olives, pitted
1 package pâte feuilletée or puff pastry
6 ounces soft goat cheese, thinly sliced (optional, but recommended)
Salt, freshly ground pepper
1.) Sautée leeks in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Cook about 10 minutes until soft and caramelized. Add garlic and cook for 5 additional minutes. Let cool. Mix halved tomatoes with remaining tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2.) Preheat oven to 200°C/400° F. Roll out pastry dough. Roll around a rolling pin and unroll in a 12-inch tart pan, pressing dough into edges. Prick the bottom with a fork.
3.) Spread the goat cheese in the pastry shell. Evenly layer on the cooled leeks. Starting from the outside, create a concentric circle with the cherry tomatoes, overlapping artfully, continuing the circles until tart is completely covered. Add olives.
4.) Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are juicy. Serve with a green salad.