Yotam Ottolenghi--any idea what I'm talking about? If the answer is yes, you're probably nodding smugly now, feeling pretty proud and super cool. If it's no, you, (like me until recently) are wondering what the heck is going on. Ok, I'll let you into the club! Yotam Ottolenghi, chef, food writer and restaurant owner, is probably one of the most exciting things to happen to vegetarian and fresh seasonal cooking in like, forever! Though not necessarily a vegetarian himself, vegetables take front and center and shine in his innovative and interesting recipes, like this stupendous and vegetable-overloaded Very Full Tart, straight from the pages of his first cookbook, Plenty. For this and so many other amazing recipes, he is entirely deserving of Famous Friday treatment and today we celebrate his enormous culinary contributions!!
Originally from Israel but now based in England, many of Ottolenghi's recipes have a decided Middle Eastern/Mediterranean bent and his use of flavors and combinations of ingredients is bold and innovative. Plenty is gorgeous to look at too, with vibrant color photographs accompanying each recipe as are Ottolenghi's other 3 cookbooks. If you're looking to incorporate more interesting ways to eat veggies, you've got to pick up one of his books. Everything I've made so far has been fabulous, including this amazing vegetable tart.
This is not hard to do, but it's a lot for one day, so I suggest making the tart dough the day ahead. Then all you have to do is roll it out and blind-bake it while you're prepping the veggies.
While the tart partially cooks, you prep an impressive array and amount of veggies, ranging from red and yellow peppers to eggplant, sweet potato and zucchini and then roast them.
Along the way, you saute a few onions until they're deliciously caramelized, eventually scattering them across the bottom of the tart.
Then you mound on all those delightfully roasted veggies--
Eventually topping them with a mixture of ricotta, feta and cherry tomatoes--
Finally, you whisk a couple of eggs together with some heavy cream and pour it over everything so that the enormous amount of veggies have something to bind them together.
I was skeptical that this many veggies could actually fit and not somehow fall out of the tart shell or that the tart shell itself would collapse under the weight of so many veggies, but magically the tart baked up golden brown, cheesy and rustically perfect, like something a small cafe in the South of France would just happen to have on hand.
And true to it's name, this very full tart is also very filling. If you make this for dinner, you really don't need to serve anything else, because everything is already in there! Each bite is a wonderful explosion of flavor, color and texture, from the flaky, buttery crispness of the crust to the tender caramelized onions and roasted veggies to the creaminess of the melted cheese--your tastebuds will truly be wowed!
This is special enough to serve at a fancy dinner or maybe for a vegetarian Thanksgiving entree, but don't wait until then. Treat yourself to it now and get your daily recommended amount of vegetables in one fell swoop! And if you're looking for more wonderful meat-free recipes pick up a copy of Plenty. There's "plenty" in there to keep you busy, happy and healthy! Have a great weekend everyone!!
Plenty's Very Full Tart-Famous Fridays
Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients--it's mostly just chopping up veggies and letting them roast--the result is totally worth it!!
Serves 4-6 people as a main course
Prep Time for the Tart Dough: 10 minutes, plus at least 2 hours of chilling time; Bake Time for the Tart Dough: 45 minutes; Prep Time for the Filling: 1 1/2 hours (but only about half of that is hands on time); Bake Time for Tart: 35-45 minutes
For the Tart Dough
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for flouring the board
- 1 stick, plus 2 1/2 tablespoons very cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
For the Filling
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-large eggplant, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup ricotta
- 5 ounces feta
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
1. To make the Tart Dough: Mix the salt and water together in a small bowl and stick into the fridge until ready to use--you want this very cold.
2. Place the flour and butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until the large crumbs begin to form. Add the salt water mixture and keep pulsing until a dough forms, but not until it's smooth.
3. Lightly flour a board or counter and turn the dough out onto it. Form the dough into a 1-inch thick dish and wrap well in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. If dough is too hard to use at first, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to soften up enough so that it can be rolled.
4. When ready to make tart, remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325ºF. Lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch removeable-bottom tart pan. On a floured board, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a circle about 1/8-inch thick and large enough to line the pan, with a generous overhang. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and press it down well into the bottom and sides, folding over the overhang to make a nice little rolled top--this will help the copious amounts of veggies from overflowing. Line the dough with a large sheet of parchment paper and fill it with beans or pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the paper and the beans and bake for another 10-15 minutes more, until the crust looks golden brown. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and let cool.
5. To make the Filling: While the tart dough is cooking start prepping your veggies. Once it comes out of the oven, turn the heat up to 450ºF.
6. Use a small serrated knife to cut around the stem of the peppers and lift it out along with the seeds. Make sure all the seeds are removed and throw the cores and seeds away. Place the peppers in a small baking dish, drizzle with a bit of the oil and place on the top shelf of the oven.
7. In a large bowl, mix the cubed eggplant with 4 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper. Turn them out onto a large rimmed baking sheet and place on the bottom shelf of the oven, below the peppers. Cook for 12 minutes. Then add the sweet potato to the eggplant and stir gently. Cook for another 12 minutes. Then add the zucchini to the pan, stir again and cook for another 10-12 minutes. At this point, the veggies on the pan should be cooked, with some charred spots on them. Remove from the oven and set aside. The peppers should be done and charred too. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 10 minutes so that the skins, steam off. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off the peppers, discard and tear the peppers into strips, any which way. Set aside.
8. Turn the oven down to 325ºF and leave on.
9. While the veggies are roasting, you can heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onions with some salt and the bay leaves for 25-30 minutes, until they caramelize and are soft and golden brown. Remove from the heat, take out the bay leaves and throw them out.
10. Turn the cooked onions into the cooled pie crust and spread them out evenly. Top with all of the roasted vegetables and try to spread them out evenly. Dot the entire surface with small dollops of the ricotta and crumble the feta evenly over the top. Scatter the surface with the cherry tomatoes, cut-side up.
11. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream and a bit of salt and pepper. Slowly pour over the tart, so that it can sink to the bottom. You want the top layer of cheese and tomato not to be covered by the mixture. Place the whole thing on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. Let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting and then either serve immediately or let sit for longer and serve at room temperature.
12. Leftovers can be stored well wrapped in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and this tastes great cold too, but if you like you can reheat in the oven.
Note: Recipe for filling adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi--I left out the fresh thyme sprigs which you can scatter across the top of the roasted veggies before you put the cheese on. Otherwise, I stuck pretty closely to the original. Recipe for Tart Dough is from Martha Stewart.