Monday, May 21, 2012

Roasted Vegetable & Ricotta-Goat Cheese Tart

A festive Mediterranean inspired Roasted Vegetable & Ricotta Tart with Goat Cheese and Olives, is a savoury celebration of nature's bounty. A robust full flavoured vegetable tart, there's a natural versatility to this dish that makes it easily adaptable to almost any budget and taste. Select your vegetables according to season — leeks, aubergines, broccoli, mushrooms — and you can even improvise with different cheeses or flavoured pastries. Putting your own signature on this hearty and delicious tart is part of the charm of this gorgeous recipe, originally inspired by one of my current culinary heroes — Yotam Ottolenghi. This man loves vegetables and his recipes make them shine.

Don't be put off by the length of the recipe — it's really just making the pastry and roasting the vegetables, both of which can be done ahead of time. You can even grill the vegetables on the BBQ for an easy summertime solution, or roast each of the vegetables concurrently in the oven, rather than roasting them one at a time. Finally fresh and aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme and bay leaf wraps up the entire tart making it go from ordinary to sensational. A sprinkling of ricotta and goat cheese takes the tart to the next level with its creamy texture that binds all the aromas brilliantly. 

Roasted Vegetable & Ricotta Goat Cheese Tart
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 2-inch dice
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, plus whole sprigs for garnish
1/3 cup ricotta
4 oz goat cheese

1/2 cup dried black olives, hand-pitted and sliced
8 cherry tomatoes halved
2 medium eggs
1 cup heavy cream

For the pastry: preheat oven to 350F°. Pulse 2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add butter, and pulse until the mixture becomes a coarse meal with pea-size lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. Pulse until a moist clumps forms, adding more ice water by the teaspoon if it's too dry. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Lightly grease an 9-inch tart tin with a removable base. Roll out the pastry into a circle roughly 1/8-inch thick and large enough to line the base and sides of the tin, plus extra to hang over the edge. Carefully line the tart case with the pastry, making sure you don't puncture it. Press the pastry so it covers the base and sides of the tin, with the excess hanging over the edge.

Line the pastry base with a sheet of parchment paper, making sure it covers the base and sides, and fill it with ceramic baking beans. Bake for 40 minutes. Once done, carefully remove the paper with the beans. Give the pastry another 10 minutes in the oven until it turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the filling: preheat oven to 450F°. Remove the seeds and pith from the red peppers and transfer to a small baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Roast on an upper rack, turning the peppers occasionally until tender, about 40 minutes. Then transfer peppers to a small bowl and cover with cling film. Let stand for 15 minutes then peel the peppers and julienne into strips. Set aside.

Meanwhile, toss the eggplant with 4 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the eggplant out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast on lower rack for 10 minutes. Add the sweet potato and zucchini to the eggplant and mix gently. Continue roasting until the eggplant, sweet potato and zucchini are tender, about 20–25 minutes longer, then set aside.

Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, toss the sliced tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes, skin side down, on the prepared sheet and roast on a lower rack until the tomatoes are beginning to brown and are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, fennel and bay leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. (Note: all of the vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill).

Preheat oven to 350F°. Scatter the cooked onion-fennel mixture over the bottom of of the crust and top with the other roasted vegetables and olives, evenly spread on top. Scatter with 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, top with cheeses and then with the halved tomatoes, cut-side up.

Whisk the eggs and cream in a small bowl, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the vegetables then scatter the remaining 1 teaspoon of rosemary and thyme overtop. Bake the tart until filling is set and the pastry is golden brown, 50–60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least ten minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.