When the rains come and the leaves have all abandoned their branches, I get a craving for something warm and sweet. Ayurvedically, this makes perfect sense. The autumn time is the culmination of Vata: wind and cool, dry (until the rains soak in). The body feels this cool, windy season engulf us, and craves warm, sweet, oily foods. Entering this season consciously, attending to the cravings of the body intuitively, and balancing the doshas can be done simply and deliciously.
Yesterday, after a chilly morning of picking chantrelle mushrooms in the forest, followed by a cold-to-the-bone, windy afternoon... something warm and soothing was indeed in order.
In my freezer, I had a bounty of organic peaches we purchased in the gorge a while back, as well some frozen blueberries, and wild blackberries I had picked and was saving for a perfect dessert.
On this chilly, windy afternoon, I opted for a crostata -- one of my favorite, easy and elegant desserts. I also love it because I can spice it up to make it even more ayurvedically delicious, casting a medicinal benefit on what might otherwise merely induce a sugar coma.
Here is the recipe, and I will explain the medicinal and beneficial aspects of it below:
PEACH AND WILD BERRY CROSTATA
Ingredients for the pastry:
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill organic rice flour
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar or maple sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon earth salt
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold, organic, salted butter diced
- 2 tablespoons ice water
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2-3 cups frozen or fresh sliced peaches
- 1 cup (approximate) organic berries of your choice (I used blackberries and blueberries)
- 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup raw sugar or maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon earth salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) very cold, organic, salted butter diced
For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl and mix loosely with a fork or pastry blender. Add the butter and mix with for, or pastry blender until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water all at once and mix with a fork. Removed fork, and turn the dough onto a well-floured board (rice flour) and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry (pressing some with the flats of your fingers) into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet, lined with foil or parchment paper.
For the filling, place peaches and berries in a heap on the crust. With fingers, lightly toss the chunks with the orange zest. Leave a 1 1/2-inch crust border.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice in the bowl and mix loosely. Add the butter and mix until crumbly with fingers. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the fruit to enclose the center region, pleating it to make a circle.
Bake the crostata for 25-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit looks tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Now for the ayurvedic and medicinal thoughts:
Cinnamon and ginger are very warming... Baked fruits are soothing to vata, as is a slow-baked, sweet, buttery dessert. If one wanted to make this dairy free, in addition to gluten-free, you could use coconut oil instead of butter. Using maple syrup and maple sugar (crystalized maple syrup) further addresses high vata for the season (the slow, dripping of sap from a maple tree helps to energetically balance the high winds of fall, one of Vata's most favorite seasons). In addition, hand-prepared foods, minus food processors, blenders, etc. embue the benefits of energetically connecting to the food through the creation of our hands. Each time we interact with the ingredients, we are provided an opportunity to infuse the ingredients and the final product with Love.
Conscious preparation and consumption of food rich with Prana is one of the most powerful ways to heal the body and balance the dhatus (tissues).
Everything is connected.