pine-nut tart with rosemary

pinenut rosemary tart

TS Eliot once said April is the cruelest month, but I’d like to take his April and raise him a January. Clearly, the man hasn’t lived though a “new-year-new-you” era – he’d be singing a different tune if he had, and the prologue to his canonical work might have started out a tad differently.

pinenut rosemary tartpinenut rosemary tart
pinenut rosemary tartpinenut rosemary tart

Generally, I am no friend of January. It’s just too much pressure: the resolutions, the feeling of obligation to be better, do better, think better; the pressure of salads in a month when brown food accented with butter and a rich sauce is what I want to eat. Somehow a plate full of lettuce leaves me feeling cold and dejected. Were you to put a salad in front of me, I’d simply poke about with a fork and shove it to the side. Unless we’re talking about this salad here and that one there. But for the most part, I’m all about devouring stuffed cabbage and merguez burgers and braised short ribs. I make a terrible vegetarian in the month of January and my resolutions last about as long as it takes me to drink a cup of tea. Thus I rarely make resolutions outright. Instead, I aspire. To aspire just sounds so much more open than resolve, softer, more lenient, more forgiving. It’s not that I don’t like to set goals, but just not in January, okay? The cold is just too much for me to bear. I prefer dreaming about hibernation and fleece and flannel and soup. Or visiting sunnier cities with gracious hosts and friendly dogs. On occasion, I will daydream about walking around this cold, cloudy city, armed with a cup of coffee in my hand and a camera. But mostly, I think about palm trees and chewed up monkey toys and day hikes. I’d like more of those in my life.

pinenut rosemary tart
pinenut rosemary tart

The sheer pressure of January with its new beginnings and clean pages is so daunting, it can be overwhelming and downright depressing, right? Plus as we’re coming off the holiday season high, we might just come crashing down. There are no more festive parties, no more champagne cocktails, no festive cupcakes adorned with tiny little silver dragées. It’s back to the grind; back to reality. Work picks up almost overnight and after a 15 hour workday as you get home at 10:30 o’clock at night, you want a little indulgence and a lot more sleep. And that indulgence does not come in the form of a salad.

pinenut rosemary tart

And this is where I am not helpful. At all. I say to you, “It’s winter, indulge a bit, comfort thyself. And when spring comes around with its verdant, lush produce, then transition to salads!” Won’t that be so much more fun? Great, in-season produce when it’s warmer and you’re feeling lighter just because you’re not wearing eight layers. But for now, this tart should get you through the colder months. It’s the kind of thing you want to have company for and because this is so wonderfully rich, smaller slivers will do just fine – you won’t want a big piece on your plate. Rosemary, the quintessential herb in savory winter cooking, is the star here, with its soft fragrance accenting the caramel and pine nuts. This is very classically-Italian flavor combination here, and so perfectly wintry, you’ll feel perhaps a bit gladder it’s not summer yet.

pinenut rosemary tartpinenut rosemary tart

Gray, cold days are no time to make resolutions when our souls need comforting. Let’s make them on warmer days (if at all) and in the meantime let us have cake (or tarts) with bottomless cups of tea. It’ll pass the time quite perfectly.

pinenut rosemary tart
pinenut rosemary tart

Pine-nut Tart with Rosemary
Adapted from The Last Course, by Claudia Fleming (with Melissa Clark)

Almond Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp almond flour
Pinch of salt

Pine-nut Rosemary Filling
1 cup pine nuts
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
Pinch of salt


To make the crust:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in egg.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.

3. Mix until the dough holds together, which you can test by pinching a small piece. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form it into a disk, and wrap well. Chill until firm, for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch round. Fit it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim away any excess dough, then use a fork to prick the crust all over. Chill for 10 minutes. Bake the tart crust until it’s pale golden, 20-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead of frozen for up to 3 months.)

To make the filling:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the nuts out in one layer on a baking sheet and toast them until fragrant and golden brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool, but keep the oven on.

2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar, honey, and corn syrup. Stir the mixture occasionally over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to high and boil the mixture, stirring occasionally to keep the caramel from burning, until it turns a deep amber color, 12-14 minutes.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cream (stand back, the caramel may splatter). Place over low heat and whisk until the caramel is smooth. Turn off the heat and stir in the toasted pine nuts, vanilla, rosemary, and salt. Let the mixture infuse for 15 minutes.

4. Wrap the outside of the cooled tart shell (still in the pan) with aluminum foil. Remove the rosemary sprigs and pour the pine-nut mixture into the shell. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden russet brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Makes 8 servings.


  • Lynn @Mama_Says

    I just printed this recipe. It WILL be on the menu of my next dinner party. I adore pine nuts and what doesn’t taste better after having spent some time with fresh rosemary.

  • Whitney

    This sounds like a delicious tart! Would never have considered these flavors.

    I for one am looking forward to salad season because I miss the crunch. But I will not eat the crap that I can get at the stores at the moment.

  • laura

    beautiful blog…I agree with your philosophy on resolutions in the winter time. Now is the time to sit by fires with loved ones and drink warm drinks and eat comforting foods. We have so much rosemary in our garden – I appreciate new thoughts on how to put it to good use.

  • my spatula

    bottomless cups of tea is a norm around our house this time of year. i have a bag of pine nuts waiting to be used and now i think i have the perfect solution with your gorgeous tart!

  • Radish

    KT – Holy crap, you’re right, Chaucer does talk about April in the prologue, but it IS TS Eliot. My English teachers must be super embarrassed for me

  • Annelle

    This recipe looks scrumptious, and is on my ‘to do’ list. And I love your blog writing. You are SO right about January…coming off the holiday highs, it’s just too much to ask us to now tidy up, unclutter, lose weight, exercise and eat salads. By early spring my little lettuce garden will be growing, and the salad menu will look much better. Pine Nut Tarts sound wonderful for now!

  • nithya at hungrydesi

    This looks beautiful…and I love your post. I never set resolutions. I prefer your suggestion of “aspiring.” Oh and yes, salads in warm weather only. I’m much more of a hot foods person.

  • Barbara

    Kind of a pecan pie made with pine nuts! Love it. And the almonds in the crust would be delicious. Clever to use rosemary although I am seeing it more and more in sweet desserts.
    Your photos are terrific!

  • Patricia

    You are preaching to the choir sister. I have resolved to make no resolutions this year, and already it seems to be going smashingly. We started the year, here in Florida, with an unseasonable cold snap and it kept us thin-bloods inside straining for satiation and warmth. Eating a cool salad was not appealing in the slightest. But my boyfriend and I, unwritten of course, did decide to drop some of the holiday pounds along with the 10 extra we acquired somehow in 09. We compromised and had a spring green salad, but topped it with barely baked apples (so they still have a slight crunch), dried cranberries, rich chevre and roasted walnuts. The dressing was a simple vinagrette of walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots and dijon mustard, heated a tad in the nuker to give a semi-wilted quality to the unsuspecting greens. It was great, and paired with a hearty bowl of soup, beans or pot roast, it really comes alive.
    Just thought I would share and give you another chance to test the salad monster. But braised short ribs really sound delicious, I hope it stays gloomy today giving me an excuse.

  • Megan Gordon

    Quick question: did you find the pine nuts quite pricey? I have a sort-of similar recipe for Rosemary Apricot Bars made with pine nuts from an old Food and Wine that I’ve been dying to make…every time I go to buy the pine nuts, they’re anywhere from $8-$12 for a rather small bag. Just curious … this looks lovely. Happy weekend!

  • radish

    Megan – yes, sadly, they’re not cheap. I buy mine at Whole Foods which brings the price tag even more (sadly), but I was so dead set on making this that I sort of thew caution to the wind. Trader Joe’s (if there’s one close to you) carries nuts at more reasonable prices. Maybe it’s worth giving them a try?

  • Mark Scarbrough

    Stunning. And you’re right, January is a silly month. I always thought September was “new years.” You know, la rentree, as the French say. I’d rather make some sort of resolution then. I tried this year–and finally discovered that my resolution was to make none, to change nothing. Except maybe to make a fine tart like this.

  • Radish

    Mark – perhaps because I grew up with Rosh Hashana or it’s back to school or something, but yes, September sounds much better to make resolutions. Or March, or something. But January, is just too much! I think a resolution to make this tart is a fine one, indeed! Or maybe it should be an aspiration? ;)

  • Jennifer

    I almost passed out at Sahadi’s last week when I saw the price of pine nuts. Chinese pine nuts used to be much less expensive and I’d often swap them for the more expensive Italian ones. I’ll have to add them to my list on the next Costco run so I can make this lovely tart.

  • Radish

    Jennie – I bet in blind taste test you won’t tell the difference. I think I got mine at Whole Foods OR Trader Joe’s and felt slightly faint, but then the call of caramel brought me back to life! And can you bring me along on your next Costco run? I pay in really delicious brownies or Russian food. Or babysitting ;-)

  • molly

    Ditto the procrastinated resolutions AND the gloriousness of this tart. I made it years ago, and thought it smashing. The rosemary scent against crunchy caramelized nuts is outrageous. Lovely post.

  • Banu

    I am not a sweets addict, but this looks incredible. I just made Claudia Fleming’s ginger-Guinness cake which didn’t last in the house longer than a day and half, and this tart looks equally delicious. Hang in there, it’s almost February; spring is on the way!

  • kelly s.

    Thanks for your inspiring recipe sassy radish, I just made a mixed-nut “recession” version of the tart for thanksgiving and it turned out great. Cheers!

Leave a Comment