Tarte à Rien

I love this. It literally means "tart of nothing" or a "nothing tart." I read this somewhere recently and it reminded me of my host mother Michèle's sensibility when it came to cooking. She enjoys good food but doesn't spend too much time in the kitchen to achieve it. She once told me she made a salad "avec tous ce qui est tombé sous la main," or "everything that fell under her hands." When Im cooking, I try to remind myself of her laidback approach. Improvise with what you have and never take any of it too seriously!

Sweet or savory, Michèle almost always used a premade crust to save time. Every once in a while she would make one from scratch, but that was more of the exception than the rule. My favorites were the ones she made most often: a savory tarte aux tomates and a sweet tarte aux prunes.

I made this plum tart last fall, and changed her recipe a little to make a custard-like filling. I actually just prefer her simple approach of slicing the plums in half and arranging them on top of the crust. "C'est tout simple," as Michèle would say. Simple but delicious! Depending on the season, I could see this working with peaches, or even blueberries. Baking the fruit brings out its natural sweetness, creating a jam-like filling for your flaky crust. Im a huge chocolate fan, but theres nothing quite like a simple fruit tart.

Ill admit that some plats Michèle made took time to grow on me (her cake aux olives being one but that's another story). This was not one of those dishes. I loved this rustic tomato tart from the very first bite. It reminds me of pizza! And like pizza, it tastes just as good cold the next day. Before I left Montpellier, Michèle showed me how to make her famous tarte aux tomates and I couldn't believe how easy it was. Its literally five ingredients: pie crust, Dijon mustard, tomatoes, mozzarella, and herbs de Provence.

Step 1: Spread the mustard on the pie crust.

Step 2: Slice tomatoes and arrange on top on the crust.

Step 3: Slice mozzarella and arrange on top of the tomatoes.

Step 4: Sprinkle with herbs and bake at 400 degrees for 45-55 minutes. I didnt get a photo of the finished product so youll just have to use your imagination!

I love how these recipes are super simple but they still feel a little special. Do you have any tart recipes you love?

-Stephanie