In summer, when our garden and CSA boxes overflow with an abundance of fresh vegetables, I lean on light, veggie-heavy lunches. Among my favorite are free-form vegetable tarts, filled with roasted vegetables and artisan cheeses, and brightened with the lightest sprinkling of fresh herbs.
Recently the folks at Ewetopia Dairy sent me a sample of their cheeses, and they’re extraordinary – rich and tart, creamy with faint briny notes, and mild, too. When I tasted the cheeses, I knew at once that they belonged in a savory summer tart too, where the creamy notes would provide balance to the sweet earthiness of roasted golden beets.
Why Raising Animals on Pasture Matters
Ewetopia, like many small farms and farmstead cheesemakers, raises their animals on pasture. That means that their soft and fuzzy ewes spend their time outside, under the sun, grazing on their natural diet of grasses, clover and other forage. Not only does this practice ensure that their animals lead a healthier and happier life in general, but also it ensures that the milk they produce is richer in vitamins, minerals and wholesome fats than the milk of their counterparts who are otherwise kept confined.
Supporting Artisan and Farmstead Producers
Beyond supporting small farms, it is also important to support artisan and farmstead producers – people who use time-honored techniques and continue to uphold traditions in cheesemaking, bread baking, fermentation and other practices resonant of our culinary heritage that might otherwise be lost to the continued industrialization and homogenization of the food supply.
Farmstead producers work in small batches, carefully crafting foods from scratch, and developing unique and complex flavors in their final dishes.
Ewetopia Dairy and Sirene and Philospher Cheese
As I mentioned earlier, Ewetopia, a producer of artisan-style Ewe’s milk cheeses out of northern California sent me a selection of their cheeses to try. They’re at once creamy, and mildly sharp with briny undertones. They’re distinct, and pleasant.
The Philosopher Cheese, a mix of cow and ewe’s milk, is pleasant and soft, and rich, while Sirene is similar in flavor to the Philosopher cheese only firmer in texture and more crumbly. They both blend together beautifully, and are at once mild and rich in flavor.
When I tasted them, I knew their rich flavor, mild sharpness coupled with their creamy texture would pair beautifully with the sweet earthiness of roasted beets. So, I paired them together with beets, bright mint, runny honey and a sprouted wheat crust for a Roasted Beet Pie.
Where to Find Ewetopia’s Cheese
Located in northern California, Ewetopia can be found locally, but for those of us not blessed to live nearby, you can order their cheese online here and have it shipped to your door (it’s amazing stuff.)
When you order online, not only do you get to taste some pretty amazing cheese, but you also support a broader movement of small-scale, but innovative agriculture and food production.
|Golden Beet Galette with Honey, Cheese and Mint|| |
- 2 medium golden beets
- 1 medium red beet
- 4 ounces Ewetopia's Philosopher Cheese (available from Ewetopia here), divided
- 6 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons honey, preferably raw
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1½ cups sifted whole-grain flour
- ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- ¼ cup chilled butter (chopped into ¼-inch cubes)
- ½ cup sourdough starter
- The night before you plan to bake the tart, heat the oven to 425 F.
- Wrap the beets in parchment paper, and again in foil. Roast them for 40 minutes, or until tender when pierced by the tines of a fork. Transfer to the refrigerator overnight.
- Prepare the sourdough pie crust In a stand mixer, or by hand, by stirring salt into flour. Then beat in chilled butter until the flour resembles corn meal. Beat in sourdough starter until the dough is smooth.
- Form the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 24 hours.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface, roll into a disc about ⅛-inch thick, and place gently in a pie tin.
- Heat the oven to 375 F.
- Dump ricotta and half the Philosopher's cheese into a mixing bowl and beet together until loosely combined. Spoon into the waiting pie crust.
- Peel and slice the roasted beets to ⅛-inch thickness and arranged them in overlapping circles on the dough, allowing an inch of space at the edges of the dough. Sprinkle remaining crumbled cheese over the beets, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese has softened and the crust is crisp. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with mint and serve warm.