Ten years ago, we were on an early morning run with our running group. My knee was in pain and I had to stop, so you stopped with me. Everyone else continued on. We walked through the trails, just the two of us, me hobbling along while you slowed your speed to match me. You gave up your run that day to be with me. It would be the first of many times that you stayed by my side. We walked through the wooded trails, beams of light peeking in through overarching branches, and it was in that moment that I asked you if we’d be friends forever. You laughed at my question and teased me a little. I think you thought it was funny that I’d asked, perhaps even cute. But you said yes, we would be. You told me you’d be there when I birthed my first baby. You’d had a home birth, so you could walk me through it. You’d walk me down the aisle or get ordained (if that’s what I wanted) and marry me on my wedding day. (Wouldn’t that be a sight!?) You’d be there for my life, you said. We’d only met a couple of weeks before when I asked you if I could run with you. A 5km run, and what seemed like a lifetime of shared stories later, we were deep into a friendship so close that people thought we were sisters.Through the years, we’ve seen each other through a lot. You moved across the country. I followed shortly after, at least according to you. You left your marriage while I put my heart into a couple of significant relationships, looking for the one that I wanted to spend my life with. We’re both good on our own and being single was something we both settled into comfortably, happily even, but I’ve always wanted the happily ever after. Love is amazing, we’d both agree on that. Yet, you never hesitate to remind me that marriage is overrated. I still want it. Marriage, that is. And you get that. In amongst all this, we’ve both had some really bad dates. Just sayin’. Not to put too fine a point on it, but do you remember when we were going to write a book about dating from two different perspectives—one from a woman in her 20s and one from a woman in her 40s? Oh, the stories we could have told! I still think we could have gotten a book deal for that one!
Ten years later, your career is exactly where you dreamed it would be and I’m starting all over trying to find a new career path. In this time we’ve shared tears, laughter, sadness, joy, and compassion for the gifts and challenges that life has brought us—death, illness, new friendships and partners to contend with, road trips and road rockets (but never at the same time), and more laughter and love than most people see in their lifetime. I’ve seen your son grow to become a man, an intelligent and caring man with integrity, compassion, a great sense of humour, and the courage to challenge people on their shit. You taught him that. This man, who can pick up an instrument and play so beautifully that we sit captivated for hours. You made him! I am always in awe of what you create.
You bring such beauty into your life—experiences, relationships, moments, things. Every one of them is curated with such care and intention. Yet, you also have the capacity to live with such freedom, not thinking about the consequences and just being in the moment. This juxtaposition is at the core of who you are. It’s why I always know that I can trust you. No matter which way life goes, you will be there. I hope you always know that I’ll be there too. We may bend, but we never break.
You have taught me about what it means to be a friend. You have taught us all.
A few weeks ago, you invited me to your cottage and it was exactly what I needed—to be with nature, to experience the still of the lake and the rustling of the trees, and you. I needed to be with you. I didn’t even know it, but you did. When I told you that I might need to have a good cry when I got there, you said that I could just feel whatever I needed to feel in a safe place. When I read your text, I cried on the spot. You’re always a safe place. This is one of the many reasons that I love you.
You are a model of the best of friends and I could write for pages about the gifts that you bring to me, to all of us. Everyone should have someone like you in their life.
So lady, I made this tart thinking of you. You like simple food, the kind that doesn’t take too much of an effort or a lot of unknown ingredients, but that is exquisite in taste. Lately, you like it when others cook for you, so you’ll just have to tell me when you want to come over.
As for my readers, since I can’t fit all of you into my apartment, I must insist that you make this yourself. It really is the simplest tomato tart. The crust ingredients are easily mixed in a food processor and simply pressed it into a tart pan to bake. The gluten-free (and optionally vegan) base is full of nutritious almonds and oats. If you eat dairy, I recommend using butter instead of olive oil. I’ve made it with both (and both are good, I promise), but butter reigns supreme in this case. Simply toss your sliced tomatoes, mixed with a few aromatics, in a bowl and generously cover the crust. Bake in the oven until the tomatoes are cooked through. The crust is a little crumbly, but I think the crumb adds to the character of the dish. I think you’ll soon agree. In fact, I am so sure you’ll love it that you might even be writing a gratitude post about me soon.
- 1 cup almond meal (You can also make your own by processing whole, raw almonds.)
- 1 cup oats, gluten-free if you prefer
- 1 tbsp pysllium husk *See note below
- 3 tbsp cornmeal
- ½ tsp kosher salt (or ¾ tsp if you're using olive oil instead of butter)
- 4 tbsp salted butter (or 4 tbsp olive oil *see the note about salt)
- 1-2 tbsp very cold water
- 2 - 3 cups chopped, assorted cherry and grape tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on the size
- 1 tbsp grainy mustard
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ a red onion, halved again and thinly sliced
- A generous pinch of kosher salt
- *If you don't have access to psyllium, you can try ground flax or a gently whisked egg. I have not tried these substitutions in this tart specifically, but I have used them in other recipes in the past with much success.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pulse together the almond meal and oats until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- Add the psyllium husk, cornmeal, kosher salt and butter or olive oil (be sure to note the amounts) and process again until the mixture starts to come together.
- With the machine running, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch tart pan and press down evenly to form a crust.
- Gently toss together the cut tomatoes with the mustard, oregano, garlic cloves, onion, and salt.
- Pour the mixture onto the tart crust and spread it out evenly over the crust.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the tomaotes are cooked through to your liking. Check after 35 minutes.
- I think this tart serves 2-3 well with a salad. But if you want to be more dignified, try serving it to 4 people with a hearty salad and a side of vegetables or crusty bread (gluten-free, if that's your thing).
- Eat with gratitude.