Should-less Weekend + RECIPE: Cauliflower Pesto Tartlets

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Would you all still love me if you found out that I watched Gossip Girl for 12 hours (straight) this weekend? Please tell me that you all still love me anyways. Because exactly that has happened. And since we’re being completely open and honest, I loved every single second of it.

My Mr. Carrot is the best man in a wedding in April (Yay Becky and Dan!!!! Your big day is almost here!!!) and this weekend was the very fun, very manly, very well-planned pre-wedding weekend of bachelor joy. March Madness and pizza and grilling all kinds of meat and shooting guns and playing poker until 4 in the morning. So many boys things jam-packed into one little weekend.

I, of course, was left at home, being neither a bachelor nor a boy. And I used this weekend of aloneness to indulge in every single thing I possibly could. Like cooking up a storm and reorganizing my mason jars of nuts, grains and lentils. (Did I really just call that indulging?!) Like eating Culvers custard two days in a row and going on three gigantic hikes with all the family I could convince to come visit me in two days’ time.

And… watching an entire season of Gossip Girl on Netflix. And I can’t even use the excuse that it was the first season and I got all swept up in the tension and charm of Dan and Serena’s relationship, because it was season 4. The season where all the love triangles start to get a little bit too inbred and everyone has turned Upper East Side nasty and the plot is trying way too hard to be twisty. Seriously, it’s the most ridiculous show I have ever fallen in love with. But in love I am. Deny it I cannot.

And deny it I will not because this is the first should-less weekend I’ve head in a very very long time and no one should ever feel bad about should-less days.

What is a should-less day you ask? It’s a day (or a whole weekend if you’re smart) where you take your to-do list and you throw it out the window (figuratively of course!). A day that is for you and you alone. A day that has no shoulds and no guilt. A day where you just do what you feel like, resting your mind, body and soul. I’m not sure where the concept originated but I heard of it first during an interview with Ellen Burstyn on Anna Sale’s Death, Sex & Money podcast.

“I have what I call should-less days. Today is a day where there’s nothing I should do. So I only do what I want to do. And if it’s nap in the afternoon or watch TV and eat ice cream, I get to do it,” Burstyn explains. “Should-less days, I highly recommend them. Because what I figured out, is we have wiring, I have wiring in my brain that calls me lazy if I’m not doing something. God, you’re so lazy … And that wiring is there. I haven’t been able to get rid of it.”

Ellen, I don’t know you but may I just tell you that you are so brilliant and wise. I’m so annoyed with that little voice in my head that thinks adequate rest is the same as laziness. Rest, real guilt-free, do-whatever-your-body-feels-like rest is so essential. Bodies and minds that are rested do better work. Bodies and minds that have adequate time to relax and unwind have a lot more energy. Bodies and minds that take should-less weekends are far less likely to drop two dinners in a row on the floor. We all have busy, busy lives and we all so desperately need to put them on hold every once and awhile. Hurray for should-less days (and Gossip Girl?)!

Alright, that’s it. I’ve said my peace. I watched way too much TV this weekend and not even good TV and I’m not embarrassed to admit it! (Okay, I am a little bit embarrassed). But it’s okay, these Cauliflower Pesto Tartlets will more than make up for it. You’ll be loving me and forgetting about the whole Gossip Girl confession in no time.

-Leek

P.S. Did anyone else have a freak blizzard yesterday?! There’s literally a foot of snow on the ground here in Southern Wisconsin! Happy third day of spring!

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CAULIFLOWER PESTO TARTLETS
If you have some pesto on hand or in your freezer (I almost always do), I’d highly suggest tossing it into the mix. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world, just sub in olive oil instead.

Takes 1 hour, 30 minutes (most of it inactive)
Makes 18 tartlets

2 pounds cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions (white and green parts), sliced
½ cup Parmesan, shredded
1 cup ricotta
4 teaspoons pesto, optional
Flaky perfect tart dough:
1¼ cup flour

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup butter, cut into small cubes and put into the freezer until ready to use
1 ounce cream cheese, cut into small cubes and put into the freezer until read to use
¼ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup ice cold water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep the cauliflower and toss with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and a generous amount of black pepper in a large bowl. Lay out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 50 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout for even cooking. You want the cauliflower to be browned on all sides.
While the cauliflower roasts, I suggest making the tart dough so that it has adequate time to chill. Well-chilled dough made with well-chilled butter equals the yummiest, flakiest crust.
Combine flour and salt in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse until the dough resembles small, pebble-sized crumbles throughout. It should be uneven. Fine, even crumbs means the butter has been overworked. The dough will still turn out, it just won’t be as flaky.
Add Greek yogurt and pulse until just combined. Add water and pulse just until dough comes together into one solid mass. When using a food processor to make pie or tart dough, it’s important not to over-mix. This will take a little time to get a knack for. I highly suggest using the pulse feature of your food processor so you can watch the dough as it changes. You can also cut in the butter and cream cheese with a pastry cutter (or two forks) but I live and die by my food processor when making pie or tart dough. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, shape into a ball as best you can, wrap and store in the freezer until ready to use.
Combine roasted cauliflower with scallions and Parmesan in a large bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
In a medium bowl, whisk ricotta until smooth. Add pesto and whisk again until smooth. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
Remove tart dough from freezer and divide in half. Place half of the dough on a well-floured counter. Flour the top of the dough and roll out into a large rectangle, about 12-inch x 8-inch and 1/4-inch thick. Slather with half the ricotta mixture. Top with half of the roasted cauliflower mixture. Roll up tightly and slice into 9 pieces. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Lay pieces on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

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