If I had to pick a favorite stone fruit, nectarines would be it. All summer long, their perfect displays crowded the entrances of grocery stores and begged to be bought by the dozen, each time we walked through the doors. Surprisingly enough, my favorite nectarines didn't come from the farmer's market or a little wagon off of County Line Road, but a specialty grocer located just south of downtown. They had them on mega sale for an entire week, and each day I couldn't resist going in and buying them by the armful. I'd ask the sales clerk to leave the ripest of the bunch unbagged, and I'd wander out the back of the store, stopping to rinse it before I left.
Ask anyone and they'll tell you the proper way to eat stone fruit is to halve it, pit it, (slice it if you're fancy) then chow down. But I don't have time for that. I'd bite through the nectarine's smooth skin and juice would run down the sides of my mouth, past my wrist and all the way to my elbow. I'd lick it off because you just don't let something that good go to waste. Often times I'd think about how silly it is that nectarines tend to get overlooked for their peachy counterparts. But if I'm going to be completely honest, I don't like to fuss with peaches. Sure, they're delicious - and no, I'm not crazy - but the fuzzy skin is too off putting for me to enjoy them on the fly. (Thom is shaking his head right now.) Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good peach from time to time - but if nectarines are anywhere in sight, I'm going to pass on the peaches.
How I managed to save enough nectarines for this tart is beyond me. But I did, and that's all that matters. This recipe was originally supposed to be a nectarine frangipane tart, until I realized how much I do not like nectarines and frangipane, together. So instead I made a raw tart (the frangipane recipe will come later this year), and I have to say it's one of the tastiest raw desserts I've ever made. The cardamom cream pairs perfectly with the juicy nectarines and walnut crust. And did I mention it's completely acceptable to eat any time of day? I enjoyed it for breakfast every morning until it was gone.
RAW NECTARINE AND CARDAMOM CREAM TART
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
12-14 medjool dates, pitted and divided
1/2 cup raw nut milk (or water)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of fine sea salt
2-3 nectarines, halved, pitted and sliced
Place the cashews and almonds in a small bowl; cover with water and let soak for 6 hours, or overnight. While the nuts are soaking, prepare the crust by adding the walnuts to the container of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Blend walnuts into a fine meal then add 8-10 dates and blend just until combined; about 30-45 seconds. Pinch the dough with your fingers - if it sticks together, you're good to go; if not, add additional dates. Press the dough into an 8-10" tart pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic and freeze until ready to use.Once the nuts have soaked, discard the soaking water and add them to the container of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the 4 remaining dates, nut milk, vanilla bean, cardamom and sea salt, and blend until smooth; about 45-60 seconds. Transfer the nut cream to a small, air tight container and and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.To assemble the tart, fill the tart crust with the nut cream and top with nectarines. For the arrangement above, line the nectarine slices around the outer edge of the tart, then work your way in. Tart will keep in the freezer for weeks, but be sure to let it thaw for 20 minutes prior to serving. If you do plan on freezing it, I recommend adding the nectarine slices just before serving.Yield: 12 slices