Be Inspired” Seasonally with Rita Calvert

 As we remain firmly in the glow of summery September (minus the humidity), a rainbow of apples has nudged the last of the summer fruits to the side while a crazy patchwork quilt of winter squash, gourds and pears takes center stage.

I was Chef at Farmers Market last weekend and I saw this firsthand. However, the dish I chose to prepare for sampling was the perfect combination of summer’s end. The Panzanella salad was chockfull of corn, summer squash, eggplant and tomatoes. It’s not time to let that produce go although soon, very soon, we will segue into fall.

Again frangipane makes fresh fruit tarts shine. I used pears from my own tree which certainly, are not the prettiest, but are full of deep rich flavor.IMG_6635

Grilled Panzanella with Fresh Corn

Serves 8

As an Italian standard this robust entree salad makes use of the last tomatoes from the garden, lots of summer produce as well as any leftover bread. Feel free to add additional vegetables of choice. I also added some grilled Italian style sausage from our local farmer: Lynn Ferguson. Grilled chicken, beef or pork would also work.

You’ll notice the onion is caramelized while most of the other veggies are grilled. This was to keep some bright colors in the salad. Read the recipe through so it is clear any advance prep that is needed.

  • IMG_66302 cups grilled country bread or ciabatta, broken into bite size pieces
  • 1 eggplant, slices and grilled and diced
  • 2 summer squash of choice, grilled and diced
  • 6-8 small red skinned potatoes, grilled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, grilled and diced
  • 2 ears fresh corn, cooked, kernels removed, grilled or steamed
  • 1 large onion, cooked until caramelized
  • 2 cups diced fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Toss grilled or toasted cubes of bread with vegetables, olive oil, chopped basil and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. 


Small Pear Frangipane Tarts  

Serves 8-10 

 Try to use Bosc or even D'anjou pears for this recipe as they have a richer flavor than Bartletts. You can use 1 large 10-inch tart pan or 4 smaller ones.

  • homemade pastry crust or 1 sheet pie pastry
  • 1 recipe Frangipane (below)
  • Filling 
  • 4 cups sliced ripe organic pears (no need to peel)
  • Zest of one lemon, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam, melted

First make the Frangipane (recipe below).



This frangipane recipe makes enough almond cream for 1 large tart or several small tartlets.

  •  1/2 cup ground almond meal
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

 Using a food processor, combine all the ingredients until a smooth, creamy paste is formed.

 Preheat oven to 375º F

Toss the pears, lemon zest and vanilla until well combined. Line 4 small tart pans with pastry, pressing into the corners and crimping at top edges. Refrigerate until chilled.

Add equal parts of frangipane to each tart pan. Bake in hot oven for 10 minutes. Pour the prepared pears on top of the frangipane in each tart, pressing down gently. Spread the top evenly with apricot jam.

Return to oven and bake 25-30 minutes, until crust in golden and pears are soft. Let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.



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