Sweet Potato and Fennel Tartine with Lemon Hemp Seed Butter (and a lovely surprise)
For the last few years we have been looking down the valley at a lovely big mulberry tree. I remember about this time last year I took a walk and noticed the fluffy little beginnings of many little berries dangling daintily throughout its branches. It spurred within me a thousand childhood memories of deep red stained lips and hands and school uniforms. I remember my mother and my friends mothers begrudgedly soaking and scrubbing and cursing us for wearing white while picking mulberries. I remember writing my name in huge letters on the school fence with mulberry and it still being there years later. I remember braving the highest fences, the wildest German Shephards and the crankiest old men to hurriedly fill our mouths and hands with Mulberries growing in anybodies backyard. I still don’t know what was sweeter…the taste of the berries, or the adrenaline it took to get to them. Mulberries didn’t only attract us by their irresistible, free but fleeting sweetness and juiciness but also because they embodied the promise of summer, of long, warm, wild, shoe-less, sun-kissed days and nights.
When I saw these little budding berries now on our very own tree I became excited, more for Bhumi than for myself and I already began joyfully mourning the outfits she’d stain. I expected to see it weeks later, exploding with bright blackish-red berries that were obvious to the eye. But gazing down the valley I never saw its branches streaked with red…so with disappointment I just assumed the fruit bats had stripped the tree leaving us without a single berry. I felt heavy, yet happy, that our land is so wild and harsh. Heavy, because unless we netted the tree to guard its fruits against the wildlife, Bhumi may never be able to experience the same juicy mulberry joy that I had as a child within her own backyard. But happy, because this land supports many native animals like the fruit bat…and to hear their squawks and chatter, the shaking and snapping of the trees, the wop, wop, wop of their broad leathery wings as they fly right by our bedroom door at night and the wonderment at what’s going to be left on the fruit trees in the morning now forms all new memories of the promise of summer and its magic.
This year once again I saw its branches in bloom. But this time without any expectations.
Every morning, Stefan and Bhumi rise together just before sunrise leaving me blissfully alone in the bed (un-sandwiched by a cuddle monger and a nearly three year old booby monster) to merge into the bed for one more hours sleep (lucky, I know). One morning, a couple of weeks ago now, I woke to an excited cacophony of Swiss German from down in the garden. Bhumi’s Swiss German is getting pretty good and despite my attempts to keep up with the learning, Bhumi and her pappa now have a sercret language. So most of the time I have no idea what they’re talking about. This morning was no exception, but I could tell by the tone in their voices, it was something amazing.
By the time I surfaced they had already arrived with breakfast. Bowlfuls of white mulberries, all perfectly ripe and sweet and delicious. The fruit bats were innocent after all and the mulberries of previous years had simply fallen from the branches, rotting on the ground while we sat in waiting for the telltale blackish tint of the red variety. It stood as a great lesson in looking a little closer and observing a little more carefully because nature never ceases to amaze and surprise. And its always lovely to be surprised with fresh berries, especially when there are no expectations.
The white mulberry is a little more subtle than its red-counterpart and a little less juicy which some might find convenient considering they are stain-free = less laundry. Every morning I would try and think of a cake, tart, jam, galette, pastry, popsicle or muffin. But honestly I couldn’t think of any better way to eat them than savouring their mild freshly-picked flavour alone (and by the handful).
Strawberries have also been in season and we have been eating them by the punnet-load alone, smashed with mint, basil and balsamic vinegar, or tossed in vanilla and maple syrup and dipped in home-made, naturally sweetened Hemp Seed butter.
Hemp seed butter has been finding its way into many of our regular dishes. Either blended as a lighter alternative to nuts in raw sweets and desserts, or as a creamy addition to salad dressings and savoury-dish toppings. This year our garden produced some little (but lovely) fennel as well as some beautiful little purple sweet potatoes. I put them all together into a roast with lemon, garlic and Rosemary, then into a sesame-seed and spelt base and topped it off with dollops of creamy but light lemon hemp butter. It was delightful.
So right here would be where I would write something about the all-amazing health benefits of eating hemp. Sadly, its still illegal in Australia to sell hemp seeds, proteins and oils as a food source (regardless of the fact it is entirely THC free). However, despite the current legislation and very slow paper work hemp seeds are still available in many health food stores often under the guise of pet-food or skin care products. To read a little about the super-powered qualities of hemp seeds I think its been best said right here at Sarah B’s My New Roots. If you haven’t already, definitely head on over there and have a read. Her blog is an absolute treasure chest.
For the base…
Essentially, you can use any good pie-base recipe for this tart. There are some excellent gluten-free options around on-line. This recipe however, using spelt is light and crispy and accompanies the Hemp butter beautifully.
- 1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour (use sprouted flour if its available to you).
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- just under 1/2 cup of iced water
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp salt
For the roasted vegetable filling…
- 1 large fennel bulb (ours were very little so I used three small ones)
- 2 large purple sweet potatoes (again, ours were very little so I used 6 or 7 small ones). If you cant find purple sweet potato then Im certain any variety will be just as delicious.
- The rind and juice of one small lemon
- 1 clove of garlic, very finely sliced
- 2 large Tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 small stems of rosemary, the leaves pulled from the stem
- Olive oil or ghee for splashing lightly over veges
- Salt and pepper
For the lemon hemp seed butter…
- 1 cup hemp seeds
- 1/3 cup hemp seed oil
- The juice of two lemons
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste