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Meet the Winner of Your Best Tart

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A big congratulations to Vanessa Larson, whose Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart was voted Your Best Tart. Here's a little more about her:

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart
Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.


I learned that sometimes simple food, made from scratch, is the best food from my grandmother. She moved to the US from Sweden when she was in her twenties, and her cooking was very much influenced by Swedish cuisine. Lunch would be simple open-faced sandwiches on rye bread with a bit of butter and some ham or herring along with homemade chicken stock with just-tender slices of carrot and celery. It wasn't fancy; it was comforting and delicious.

What's your least favorite kitchen task?

This might sound funny but I hate getting my hands dirty. When I bake or make meatballs, I wash my hands constantly because I can't stand having food on them.

Vanessa Larson herself!
Vanessa Larson herself!

Your favorite kitchen tool?

It's a toss-up between a really sharp chef's knife and a cast iron skillet. Both are indispensable in my kitchen.

What is a recipe that's on your list of things to try this year?

Ethiopian injera—the sour, spongy flatbread that is served as a vehicle for stews. I'm intrigued by food from Africa in general as I feel this is a region I haven't delved into that deeply and one that I would like to learn more about.

What's the recipe you're most proud of?

I make global cooking kits for my company, Saffron + Kumquats. For the French kit, I created a recipe for honey-roasted carrots with French green lentils, goat cheese, and walnuts. It's everything I want in a recipe—simple, healthy, and full of flavor. The sweetness of the carrots is balanced by the earthiness of the lentils, the creamy, tangy goat cheese and a sharp vinaigrette. I could eat it every day.

Tags: tart, contest winner, butternut squash