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Fresh Tarts

November 10, 2010 matkonation 1 Comment

By: Deanna Linder

For an American, Israel to me appears to be a tribal society. Tribal not in any violent sense, but meaning “societies organized largely on the basis of kinship” as defined by many anthropologists. It was this kinship, mostly between friends, of no familial relation, that ignited my initial love for the country and its culture. For me, this has translated for a fabulous group of friends who have come as close as possible to the family I miss so dearly.

In practical terms, this has translated in many group gatherings-our group rolls 18 deep-where undoubtedly food, and lots of it, is served. When it comes the time to divide the culinary duties, somehow, each time, I am asked to make a “peshtida”, the Hebrew term for quiche. In the beginning I found it a bit offensive- the only girl in the group with professional culinary training- is being asked to throw a bunch of ingredients together and throw them in the oven.  Then I simply realized that at these group gatherings, peshtida’s are what goes, it’s what the crowd wants, along with a few salads, cold beers and the left is rest to the entertainment of the camaraderie (usually provided by none other than the dentist among us).

Yet in my true form, instead of conforming, I prefer to create. And so this idea came to be, a sort-of peshtida, sort-of salad and a lot of goodness. The concept is to prepare savory tart crust , using the blind baking method, and then fill it with a salad of baked vegetables, herbs and cheeses, similar to what would baked right into the quiche, but without the heavy, mushy taste. The rich salads, creamy cheeses and crisp crust come together to make the perfect new twist on the beloved Israeli peshtida.

Basic Tart Dough

Ingredients for two six 4-inch individual tart pans:

2 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoons salt

⅔ teaspoons sugar

1¼ sticks (5 oz.) butter, very cold, and cubed

1 egg

3 tablespoons cold water

Preparation:

1. Place the flour, salt and butter in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse the dough until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Add the egg and water and continuing pulsing until dough is formed. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and continue to knead the dough for another 3 minutes, until a ball of dough is formed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour before using.

2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thick. Gently fit the dough loosely into the tart pan, pressing the dough into the corners with your fingers. To remove the excess dough, roll the rolling pin lightly over the top of the tart pan. Prick the bottom with a fork. Chill for 1 hour in the fridge.

4. Make the tart:  Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

5. Line dough with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights and bake 25-30 minutes, until golden. Set aside on a rack to cool completely.

Zucchini, Mint and Feta Salad Filling

Ingredients for six 4-inch individual tart pans:

For the zucchinis:

5 large zucchinis, washed and scrubbed, sliced ¼-inch (1 cm) thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

For the marinade:

½ cup olive oil

½ cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

For the tart:

5 oz. (150 grams) good quality feta cheese

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation:

1. Place zucchini slices and olive oil in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and use your hands to mix the all ingredients together.

2. Heat a grill pan on high heat, until very hot. Place zucchinis on pan and grill for 4-5 minutes on one side, then flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat. Repeat with remaining zucchinis and place in a large bowl.

3. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and then pour over the zucchinis. Allow to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

4. Assemble the tart: crumble ¾ of the amount of cheese and place on the bottom of the tart. Cover cheese with marinated zucchinis, sprinkle on fresh mint leaves, crumble on top the remaining feta, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin, Ricotta and Sage Salad Filling:

Ingredients for six 4-inch individual tart pans:

For the pumpkin:

3 cups fresh pumpkin, chopped into small cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup fresh sage leaves

Salt and fresh ground pepper

For the tart:

5 oz. (150 grams) fresh ricotta cheese

¼ cup fresh sage leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

2. Place the pumpkins, olive oil, fresh sage leaves salt and pepper in a large bowl and use your hands to mix all ingredients together.

3. Place pumpkin mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30-40 minutes, until pumpkin is soft and golden. Allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Assemble the tart: crumble ¾ of the amount of cheese and place on the bottom of the tart. Cover cheese with roasted pumpkin, sprinkle on fresh sage leaves, crumble on top the remaining  ricotta, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Beets, Blue Cheese and Za’atar Salad Filling:

Ingredients six 4-inch individual tart pans:

For the beets:

6 medium sized beets, peeled, cooked and sliced paper thin

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and fresh ground pepper

For the tart:

5 oz. (150 grams) good quality blue cheese, such as gorgonzola

¼ cup fresh za’atar leaves or oregano leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon good quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

2. Place the beet slices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, za’atar leaves, salt and pepper in a large bowl and use your hands to mix all ingredients together.

3. Place beet mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes, until beets are slightly crisp along the edges. Allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Assemble the tart: crumble ¾ of the amount of cheese and place on the bottom of the tart. Cover cheese with roasted beets slices, sprinkle on fresh za’atar leaves, crumble on top the remaining blue cheese, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and season with salt and pepper.

Tips:

  • Use your favorite spread such as pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, or tapenade as a bottom layer of the tart dough.
  • Use mini tart dishes and serve these as finger food appetizers at your next party.

One comment to “Fresh Tarts”

  1. I don’t leave a response, but after browsing a few of the comments here Fresh Tarts –
    Matkonation. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you
    don’t mind. Could it be just me or do some of these remarks appear like they
    are coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are posting on other sites,
    I’d like to follow you. Would you make a list of every one
    of all your social community pages like your linkedin profile,
    Facebook page or twitter feed?

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