Last May, my boyfriend (Brian) and I spent a week in Paris. We spent one morning in the neighborhood of Montmartre, where I happily investigated all of the small butchers, fromageries, and florists that lined the streets. The rest of the morning was spent slowly making our way up the hill to the Sacre Coeur, where we marveled at the gorgeous mosaics in the basilica.
After making our way back down the hill from the Sacre Coeur, we began looking for lunch spots to subside our hunger. After walking down a number of streets and perusing the menus at countless cafés and restaurants, we eventually decided upon a small café that offered a number of savory vegetable tarts. While Brian ordered a zucchini and feta tart, I ordered an eggplant tart with tomato and goat cheese. When the tart arrived, I was happily surprised to find that it was not overly heavy, instead consisting mainly of roasted eggplant and only a small amount of cheese. I devoured it (along with a small salad and a glass of wine), wishing that I could find something similar in New York (as opposed to the heavy quiches that I usually see).
For some reason, it has been over a year since we went to Paris and I only just recently made this tart. As I was looking through my fridge for inspiration the other day, I realized that dinner would have to include zucchini and eggplant (I got a little too excited when I visited the new Fairway market near my apartment the other day and ended up coming home with a few pounds of zucchini and eggplant in my bag). Since I like to include whole grains in my diet, I decided to adapt a recipe from Clotilde’s blog for my tart shell. I substituted whole wheat flour for whole wheat pastry flour, since pastry flour contains less protein and therefore produces a more tender crust. I also increased the amount of whole wheat flour in proportion to all-purpose flour. The result was a flavorful and flaky crust, that even Brian approved of.
For the filling, I very simply roasted eggplant and zucchini in olive oil and salt. After searching through the depths of my freezer, I found some basil pesto which I deemed acceptable for use. I debated whether or not to include eggs in the filling, and ultimately decided to use just 2 eggs and a ½ cup of skim milk. I didn’t have any goat cheese on hand, but found some feta and fresh mozzarella cheese, along with a small rind of Parmesan that I had hid from Brian a few weeks ago. I took all of my ingredients and filled my pre-baked tart shell, hoping for success. Later, as Brian and I sat down for dinner, I hesitatingly took my first bite. The sweetness of the eggplant and zucchini, along with the acidity in the tomato and the saltiness of the cheese immediately satisfied my taste buds. I knew before I even asked that Brian would like it too.
Summer Vegetable Tart with Whole Wheat Crust
Serves 4 entree-size portions
For the whole wheat tart dough (adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini):
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup of ice cold water
For the filling:
- ½ of a large eggplant (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 2 medium zucchini (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- ½ cup water-packed mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup homemade basil pesto (see recipe below)
- 1 large vine-ripened or beefsteak tomato
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup skim milk (you can use whole milk)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions for the tart dough:
- Combine the flour, salt, and thyme in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
- Add the olive oil and using your hand incorporate the olive oil into the dry ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal.
- Add the ice water (without the ice!) and using your hand mix the water into the dough until the dough can be formed into a ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into a disc.
- Lightly butter a 9 ½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Lightly flour your rolling pin and using the rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle, rotating the dough frequently (the dough should be about a ½cm thick).
- Being very careful not to break it, roll the dough onto your rolling pin and transfer the dough to the buttered tart pan.
- Roll your rolling pin over the top of the tart mold to remove the excess dough from the top of the pan.
- Refrigerate the tart shell for 20 minutes (this allows the gluten to relax and ensures that the crust will not shrink in the oven).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill the tart shell with dried beans, rice, or pie weights.
- Place the tart shell in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the parchment and beans and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the tart shell is completely cooked.
Note: If your tart shell cracks in the oven, you can save it! Crack open one egg and quickly whisk it with a fork. Brush the egg wash onto the cracked dough with a pastry brush and place the tart shell in the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the egg has cooked and sealed the crack.
13. Place the tart shell on a rack and allow it to cool completely before filling.
Instructions for the roasted eggplant and zucchini:
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the eggplant on the baking sheet in one layer (if you crowd the pan, the eggplant will not cook evenly). Season the eggplant with salt and brush or spray with additional olive oil.
- Roast for 20 minutes, stirring periodically, until tender and golden brown.
- Remove the eggplant and let cool completely.
- Repeat steps 1-4 to roast the zucchini.
Instructions for assembling the tart and baking:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spread a ¼ cup of the basil pesto in a thin layer in the bottom tart shell.
- Arrange the roasted eggplant and zucchini in the tart shell and season with a bit of salt and pepper.
- Crumble feta over the vegetables.
- Place the sliced tomatoes on top of the eggplant and zucchini.
- Tear the mozzarella and place on top of the tomatoes.
- Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake it for approximately 35 minutes, or until the egg custard has completely set.
- Allow the tart to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing it from the tart shell and slicing.
Homemade Basil Pesto
This pesto recipe is slightly healthier than the traditional version, using less olive oil and cheese.
- 2 cups cleaned, packed basil leaves
- 2 cloves peeled garlic
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Place the basil, garlic, olive oil, and cheese in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate or use immediately.