We needed an evening together. Nothing elaborate or fussy, but rather, a gentle, easy dinner. A moment in time to usher slowness into the summer season.

The three of us first met at a women's surfing retreat held during the depths of winter 2021. It was a weekend of wild waves, wholesome food, and pushing through our comfort zones. The more we connected, listened, and learned about each other, it became evident that our friendship commenced at an integral time in each other's lives.

A summer get together
Seedlip mocktails

For the meal, we knew it would be simple in every sense of the word. Mahsa prepared the apéritif – a nip of Seedlip's fragrant alcohol-free spirit over ice, topped with botanic tonic water, lemon, and fresh mint. Melissa, a bright and colourful platter, while I, Eleanor, whipped up a simple buckwheat salad with blistered zucchini and toasted hazelnuts.

As the early evening sun beamed directly into the kitchen, we couldn't help but feel a profound sense of closeness and celebration. Get-togethers such as these can, and should be, a more regular part of life. They always make us feel richer, in the non-material sense of the word.

Making non-alcohol drinks
A casual dinner with friends

The dessert – a velvety mascarpone and raspberry tart, had quite a moment, and we're delighted to share the recipe with you. It’s quintessentially summer, with it’s fresh berries and creamy, lemony filling. We hope you enjoy it with those you love to eat with.

Fig & almond tart with lemony mascarpone and raspberries

What could be more summery than plump, scarlet-coloured berries? Enjoyed simply in their purest form, they make a lovely topping on this sweet, fuss-free tart. The crust is a throw-together affair and requires no baking, with an elegant filling of maple-sweetened mascarpone. Altogether, an effortless dessert that can be topped with various kinds of warm-weather fruit.

For the crust:
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup rolled oats (or ground almonds)
1/2 cup dried figs or dates
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
A pinch of sea salt

Lemony mascarpone filling:
400g mascarpone
1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
Finely grated zest of one lemon
Fresh raspberries to decorate

Grease a tart tin with coconut oil.

To prepare the crust, combine all ingredients except for the coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse until the mixture resembles dense crumbs. Add the coconut oil, and pulse until it starts tocome together. Press into the tart tin, then pop in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Whisk together the mascarpone, vanilla, honey, and lemon zest, then tip into the tart crust and smooth out evenly. Top with fresh raspberries and a sprig of rosemary to decorate. Store in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy.

Serves 8

Fig and almond tart with marscapone and raspberries
View of Lion Rock at Piha

Photography & story
Eleanor Cripps

Piha Beach, Aotearoa