Saturday, December 19, 2009

Leek and Olive Tart

My wife has taken up knitting. Several Sundays a month she gets together with some other teachers and knits. Of course, knitters need nourishment. And somehow, I've become the designated cook for the group. I don't mind really, and I am getting a nifty burgundy wool cap out of the deal. It also gives me an excuse to cook some dishes I've been meaning to try.

Fields of Greens is a tremendous vegetarian cookbook. Back in the day, vegetarian cookbooks had recipes that were more penitent than pleasing. The recipes were good for you. You knew this because eating them was hard work. Then Greens showed up and people realized that you don't have to suffer to enjoy a vegetarian diet. Although I am no more vegetarian than I am religious, I have nothing but praise for Fields of Greens. It certainly makes me understand how someone could become a vegetarian.

Well, two of the teachers in the knitting group are almost vegetarian. They don't eat mammals, and all other flesh has to be made unrecognizable. I think the only reason they aren't vegetarian is they can't quite commit themselves. But they're lovely women, nonetheless.

Fields of Greens has several tarts using a yeasted tart dough. It's a supple, toothsome dough that is more buttery than a pizza crust but not as rich as a typical tart dough. It comes together easily and is not sodden at all when baked.

The filling in the original recipe calls for fresh thyme and Gaeta or Niçoise olives. I didn't have fresh thyme in, so used a teaspoon of dried instead, and used Kalamata olives because they were what I had on hand. The Kalamata olives are fairly salty, but I thought the tart tasted good. The knitters managed to finish three quarters of the tart.

Yeasted Tart Dough
from Fields of Greens

1 tsp active dry yeast, 1/2 package
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm (110º F) water
about 1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp minced lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg at room temperature
3 TBS solft unsalted butter
unbleached flour for shaping

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water set in a warm place while you gather the other ingredients. Combine 1 cup flour, the salt, and lemon zest in a bowl and make a well. Break the egg into the middle of it; add the butter and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a soft, smooth dough. Dust it with flour and gather into a ball; set it in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it is doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. If you are not ready to use the dough at this time, knead it down and let it rise again.

When you are ready to use the dough, flatten into a disk, then roll out, dusting with flour as needed to keep from sticking. I find using a rolling pin to roll out the dough is much easier and makes a more uniform crust than trying to stretch it with your hands as recommended in the book. Place the rolled dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing it up the sides. It shoud be thin on the bottom and thicker at the sides, about 1/4 inch higher than the rim of the pan. It can be filled immediately or refrigerated until needed.

Leek and Olive Tart Filling

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
3 medium-size leeks, white parts only, cut in half lengthwise, washed, and thinly sliced, about 3 cups
salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 to 10 Gaeta or Niçoise olives, pitted and chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 TBS coarsely chopped Italian parsley
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 tsp minced lemon zest
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about 2/3 cup

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and saute the leeks with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few pinches of pepper over medium heat. When the leeks start to wilt, in about 3 minutes, add the garlic, cover the pan, and lightly steam until the leeks are tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the lid and saute, uncover, for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss the leeks with the olives, thyme, and parsley. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix in the half-and-half. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and the lemon zest.

Spread the cheese over the bottom of the tart dough, followed by the leeks and olives. Pour the custard over and bake for about 40 minutes, until the custard is golden and set.

Get the flash player here:

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have any questions you would like me to answer, please e-mail me. Otherwise, please check back on the post where you commented for any updates.