31 December 2010

Recipes: Zucchini & Tomato Ricotta Custard Tart

Farmer's Market Vegetable Tart

I’m sure you could use whatever veggies you have on hand, but ever since I saw Carole Ann’s post about her Squash Tart & Tomato Jam over on Connect the Dots Crafts, I’ve had a hankering for a zucchini tart. I made the tomato jam (see the recipe at Homesick Texan) over the weekend with farmer’s market tomatoes, so today I finally made my tart. I ended up liking it better on its on that with the jam, but c'est la vie!
You’ll need:
1 refrigerated pie crust (or make your own, if you’re feeling daring)
1 small-medium zucchini
1/2 small onion (I used white, but whatever you have will be fine)
1/4 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (if you have romas, use those, about 4 or 5, sliced)
1 t. minced garlic (or 3 cloves)
1 T. unsalted butter (optional, use olive oil or similar if you don’t have butter)
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
3 T. sour cream
3 eggs
1 t. honey
1 T. brown mustard
cracked black pepper
salt (I used Hawaiian red, but whatever you have will be fine)
Start by slicing the zucchini into thin rounds. Sliver the onion finely. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half. Combine all in a skillet over medium heat with the butter and cook until nicely browned and softened. Add garlic and a light sprinkle of salt and cook for two more minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Lightly cooking your vegetable before baking your tart takes away some of the moisture, which means that you don't end up with a soggy crust bottom!
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, sour cream, eggs, honey, and cracked pepper. I really like pepper so I gave it a generous dose, but if you aren’t sure, just a couple cracks from your pepper grinder will be fine. Don’t overdose on the honey! Just a smidge adds a real delicate sweetness to your ricotta custard. (If you wanted a dessert tart, however, honey is the way to go... just maybe use apples instead of the tomatoes, hey?)
The eggs help the ricotta bind into a custard. You could stir in 2 T. of your favorite hard cheese at this point as well.
In a 9-inch glass pie pan, roll out the pastry dough. You could roll the dough into a 14 inch circle (slightly larger than the 12-inch one you started with), but it’s really not essential, unless you want to make a really nice looking rustic crust around the edge. I didn’t bother because I was in a rush to get dinner in the oven.
Spread a thin layer of the mustard along the bottom of the pie crust. This is kind of a “secret” ingredient and adds a really nice flavor. You could skip it if you hate mustard with no ill results.

Hate mustard? Pesto would make a delicious substitute here.

Spread the ricotta mixture into the pie crust. Top with the cooked veggies. There’s no need to make ‘em look all fancy like I did for the photograph, of course, just spread ‘em around evenly if you want and it will be fine. It’s the taste that counts, right? You could sprinkle some shredded hard cheese on top if you wanted before baking (parmesan would be great), but my boyfriend doesn’t like parmesan, so I skipped it. 

To make this "rustic" crust, I just folded over the excess pastry and pinched it randomly to form a slight lip.
Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour, checking after 50 minutes. You want a nice golden crust on your tart before removing it from the oven, and the custard should be set (i.e. not liquidy).  Serve with a nice dollop of tomato jam and make yummy noises. If for some reason you are interrupted in the middle of baking by the National Grid guy inspected a possible gas leak, don't panic. Just leave the oven door closed when the oven is disconnected and add 5 minutes to your cooking time. 

Tell me this doesn't look delicious! Nick and I both ate two servings!

Use green & red peppers instead of the tomato & zucchini blend here.
Any type of mushroom would be excellent with this recipe, either add it with the t&z, or alone.
Any summer squash could stand in with the zucchini: yellow or pattypan squash would work great.
Leave out the tomatoes if you don’t have any & use extra squash or add mushrooms.
Add seasonings in with the ricotta cheese, like italian seasoning and basil for an Italian feel, dill for a nice side to go with your choice of fill, or cumin for a Mexican flair, depending on the taste sensation you want.
Use half ricotta and half goat cheese for a truly decadent vegetable tart.


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