Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa

roasted tomato salsa
I’m sorry for my infrequent posts these past few months – but I have a good excuse.

Our family is growing! And while I have been feeling pretty good, all things considered, blogging has taken a back seat lately. In the past few months, I haven’t felt much like experimenting in the kitchen. Slightly nauseated and continually tired, my cooking pursuits have been limited to grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, whole wheat blueberry muffins, and mushroom cheddar omelets.

But all of that has suddenly changed. You see, I think I’ve reached that nesting phase. For most women, I guess nesting means washing baby clothes and hanging mobiles. But not for me. No, in our house Jeff is in charge of decorating the nursery while I obsessively stock our freezer with meals and ingredients to enjoy when we’re too bleary eyed and exhausted to even beat eggs.

Thankfully, our farm share’s bounty is well timed. The tomatoes have started to pour in, along with piles of fresh herbs and loads of garlic. This week, I threw it all in the oven, along with some green jalapeno peppers, and made a big batch of this spicy, smokey salsa. After I was done eating my fill of chips and salsa, I froze the rest. As it happens, cooked salsas actually freeze pretty well and retain their flavor for a few months in the freezer. The texture of the salsa might change when defrosted, but if you stir it well and heat it up again, it is just fine.

This salsa is really easy to make, and works well in all kinds of recipes. I froze most of my batch, and when I defrost it, I’ll probably use it to marinate steak for grilled steak fajitas. Or possibly I’ll toss it with some black beans, whole wheat pasta, and cheddar for a southwest pasta bake. I might even just spoon it into a tortilla with some scrambled eggs for a quick breakfast burrito.

Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa
Makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 medium tomatoes, halved
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 small onion, thickly sliced
4 peeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallion
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with half of the oil. Arrange the tomato halves, jalapeno halves, onion, and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and brush with the remaining oil. Roast the vegetables until the onion begin to brown and the peppers are blistered. Cool slightly. Working in batches, pulse the vegetables in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cilantro, scallions and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Serve right away, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze to use within a few months.

Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Fresh and Easy Spring Rolls

asian spring roll veggie
Where did Spring go? I have no idea what happened to the last few months, but all of a sudden, here we are. And this here and now is HOT. Weeks like this make me endlessly thankful for air conditioning. And even though we are enjoying the incredible luxury of central air while our neighbors sweat, I still have no desire to turn on the oven. There is nothing worse than a hot steamy kitchen on a hot steamy day.

So we’ve been eating a lot of spring rolls. This is cooking without cooking, and the results are flavorful, light and fresh – my kind of summer food. And like all my favorite recipes, there is really no recipe here. There is a technique, for sure. But as for the ingredients, well, that’s up to you.

You can pretty much stuff these light little rolls with just about anything that’s in your fridge. The fillings below are merely a suggestion, but I’ve used everything from shredded cooked chicken to pea shoots to fried tofu to Fuji apples. It pretty much all works. In terms of noodles, rice noodles are probably most traditional, and they work well. But I happened to have a box of angel hair pasta in my pantry so that’s what I used yesterday and they were lovely. I’ve also used seaweed noodles and soba noodles. They all are just fine – or you can feel free to leave out the noodles all together.

Be patient with yourself when working with the rice paper wrappers. Try not to overstuff the rolls, and you’ll get the hang of it. And have fun!

thai spring rolls
Fresh Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Makes 25 rolls

2 cups cooked angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup chopped lettuce
1 cup sliced snow peas, cut in long thin strips
1 cup sliced bell pepper, cut in long thin strips
1 cup sliced mango, cut in long thin strips
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
25 dry rice paper spring roll wrappers (the package will contain many more!)
warm water
2/3 cup bottled sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce

Toss the pasta with the oil. Arrange the veggies, mango and herbs on a cutting board so that they are easily accessible. Fill a shallow dish, such as a pie plate, with warm water. Working with just one wrapper at a time, take one rice paper wrapper and soak it in the water until it softens, about 10 seconds. Once it is soft, remove the wrapper from the water and lay it on a flat surface. It may wrinkle a bit, and that’s fine. Place a small bit of pasta, lettuce, snow pea, pepper, mango, scallion, and basil in the center of the wrapper. Fold in the ends and then roll the wrapper closed to seal. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Meanwhile, to make the dipping sauce just wisk the chili sauce with the soy sauce. Serve the sauce with the spring rolls. These are best served right away but if you cover them well, they will keep a few hours in the fridge before the wrappers start to get a bit chewy.

Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm  Comments (7)  
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About French Onion Soup

french onion soup
I’m going to say something controversial here, so brace yourselves.

I don’t like that thick, gooey layer of melted Gruyère over top of a steamy bowl of onion soup gratinee.

There. I said it. I know most people adore that bubbly cheese crust, but I think that molten cheese situation is unpleasant and chewy and simply too much. It overpowers the fabulous sweetness of the soup itself. The only thing worse than the dense cheese barrier between me and my soup is the underlying layer of soggy bread. Seriously, what could be appealing about soggy bread?

But I love French onion soup. The deeply flavorful salty-sweet broth and the silky onions are warm, comforting, and delicious. And while I am no fan of the usual soggy bread/cheese crust combination, a few shavings of cheese and a handful of crisp croutons are a welcome topping. I like to serve up the piping hot soup and then pass around bowls of homemade croutons and thin shavings of Swiss cheese. The idea is to add the croutons to your bowl in the very last moment, so they retain their crunch.

As for the soup itself, the ingredients are simple. What you’re really dealing with here is some onions and some beef stock, so the quality of the beef stock is really key. Of course, as with most things, homemade is best. But I will admit that I rarely have homemade beef stock on hand (I do usually have homemade chicken stock, but that’s a whole different discussion). But beef stock in a can is pretty terrible stuff. It’s more or less just brown salty water. However, I’ve recently discovered that good local markets will often house-make and sell their own stock. And if you can’t find the real deal, there are some decently flavorful store-bought options. In a pinch, I like Penzey’s soup base.

This recipe freezes extremely well, so I usually make a double batch. Enjoy!

French Onion Soup
Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11/2 cups dry white wine
8 cups beef broth
3 cups cubed french bread
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
2 ounces shaved Gruyère cheese

In a large soup pot, over medium-low heat melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring every so often, until th onions are very soft and starting to brown. This should take about 30 minutes. Be patient! Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and wine and stir well. Add the broth, and increase the heat to medium. Let the soup simmer for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the croutons. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the bread with the remaining two teaspoons of oil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the parsley. Spread the bread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until the croutons are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Top with the cheese and croutons.

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm  Comments (9)  
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Lighter Creamy Mushroom Soup

mushroom soup 2

It’s December.  So I shouldn’t really be too shocked that it’s freezing cold and dreary outside. But every year about this time, I find the cold jarring.

Fuzzy slippers and hearty soups are all that are keeping me from hopping a flight to Florida.  In a few weeks, I’ll settle in and remember that I enjoy crackling fireplaces and hot bubble baths, and pristine snow falls, and steaming cups of cocoa. But for now, it’s all about soup. A big bowl of soup, a piece of crusty bread, and maybe a simple green salad, and I’m about as happy as I can be in early December.

This creamy mushroom soup is actually more mushroom than cream.  Even so, the texture is still lovely and rich from the pureed mushrooms and the small amount of reduced fat cream cheese.  I happen to like the meatiness of mushroom bits in my soup, but if you prefer, you can fully puree all of the soup.

I’ve made this soup with a variety of mushrooms, and it all works.  This time I went for a combination of shiitake, crimini and regular old white button mushrooms.  Use what you like, though, or what you can find at the store.  I’ve never tried using reconstituted dried mushrooms, but I imagine they might add another level of flavor and texture, so that could be worth a try. I use beef stock, because I think the flavor combination of mushrooms and beef is lovely. You can certainly use vegetable stock – or better yet mushroom stock – for a vegetarian soup.

mushrooms

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

4 cups chopped mushrooms, mixed variety

3 cups beef stock

4 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese (not fat-free)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm  Comments (7)  
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Sausage Stuffed Bread

chicken apple sausage stuffed bread

I have a terrible tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be.

When I was a kid, my mother would buy these lovely sausage and veggie stuffed baguettes from a local bakery to slice and serve as a dinner party hors d’oeuvre. I adored the crusty outsides and rich, meaty interior.  Mom learned to buy an extra loaf just for me and my brother.  I’ve been wanting to recreate them for ages, but the whole processes seemed, frankly, like a pain in the butt.  I’d have to make bread dough, then stuff, form and bake while hoping that the whole thing wouldn’t explode.  So I never did it.

But, of course, I was making the whole process so much more complicated than it needed to be.  Yes, the real deal would involve a lovely yeasty french bread dough and a whole lot of effort.  But the slap-dash version turns out to be pretty darn delicious!  A good store-bought baguette, some pre-cooked sausage, and a bit of aluminum foil, and you have a wonderful stuffed bread.

I used chicken apple sausage, peppers, and gouda.  But you could certainly play around with the flavors.  I think that a sweet Italian sausage and some chopped broccoli would be lovely with provolone.  Really, you can’t go wrong with sausage, bread and cheese, can you?

baguette stuffed with chicken apple sausage

Sausage Stuffed Bread

Serves 8-10 as a starter

1 plump french baguette

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 links (about 6 ounces) pre-cooked chicken apple sausage, chopped

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced onion

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 cup store-bought garlic herb cheese spread

3 ounces gouda cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice into the baguette lengthwise, but do not slice all the way through – as if you’re making a very long sandwich.  Carefully dig out as much of the soft interior of the bread as you can, while leaving a solid exterior to encase the filling without collapsing.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage, pepper, onion, and garlic and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Let the sausage mixture cool slightly.  Meanwhile, spread the garlic-herb cheese over the interior of the bread. Lay the gouda evenly in the interior of the bread. Carefully spoon the sausage mixture into the bread cavity, as evenly as possible. Wrap the bread in foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is warm.  Cool slightly and then unwrap and slice to serve.

Published in: on September 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm  Comments (8)  
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Brie, Brown Sugar and Peach Pizza

grilled brie pizza

Lately I’ve been blurring all the lines between meals.  Oatmeal for lunch, waffles for supper, tuna melts for breakfast.  Who came up with all these ideas about what should be eaten when?  Of course, across the globe all of these lines blur anyway, so while eating fish at 8am feels a little thrilling to me, it’s none too shocking in a global sense.

While I love to rebel by eating a hot fudge sundae for supper, even better are those dishes that bend the rules all by themselves. Like this pizza.

The other night, Jeff and I set out to make a dessert pizza.  We layered our crisp/chewy crust with sugar, cinnamon and ripe fruit.  But something was missing.   Something rich and cheesy.

Really, you can’t go wrong with brie.  Has brie ever made any recipe worse?  I doubt it. And with this pizza, the combination of sweet and rich, crisp and gooey moves beyond the restrictive labels of dessert or dinner or breakfast.  Frankly, this pizza works wonderfully for any or all of the above.  It would make a compelling cheese course or a unique brunch.  We made it again last night and ate it for dinner with a simple arugula salad.

I’ve talked about grilling pizza before, last year when we made this Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza and I’m as big a fan now as I was then.  The crust becomes both crisp and chewy, slightly charred and full of flavor.  It works wonderfully with the soft, rich sweetness of the peaches and brie.  You can make your own pizza dough, if you like.  But I usually take the lazy way out and buy mine from a local pizzeria.  Many will sell you dough if you ask.  And some good grocery stores make their own dough too.

I like to pre-grill the peaches to caramelize them a bit before slicing them up as a pizza topping.  You don’t want to cook the peaches too long, or they will be too soft to slice.  You just want a bit of color on the fruit, and to soften the flesh a bit. And don’t skip the cinnamon.  It may sound like a strange pairing with the cheese, but the combination is surprisingly fantastic.  Trust me.  Actually, trust Jeff.  It was his idea.  Sometimes he’s smart like that.  But only sometimes.

brie cheese pizza

Brie, Brown Sugar and Peach Pizza

Serves 4

1/2 lb pizza dough

1/4 cup flour

1 large ripe peach (slightly under ripe is better than over ripe)

5 tablespoons brown sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 ounces brie, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat a gas grill to medium and grease the grates.  Roll out the dough thinly, using the flour to prevent sticking.

Slice the peach in half and remove the pit.  Press one tablespoon of brown sugar on the cut side of each peach half. Place the peaches on the grill, cut side up, and cover the grill.  Cook for two minutes and then flip (you will lose some of the sugar, but that is ok).  Grill the peach for just two minutes more and then remove from the heat.  Allow the peach to cool before slicing.

Meanwhile, carefully transfer the dough to the grill (it will bend into a strange shapes as you transfer it – just call it rustic and don’t worry about it).  Cover the grill and allow the dough to cook until the bottom gets rigid and slightly charred.  Flip the pizza dough (Jeff has developed a two handed method with a spatula and a set of tongs, but go with whatever works for you) and move quickly to sprinkle with the remaining sugar and the cinnamon.  Top evenly with the peach slices and the brie.  Close the grill and cook just long enough to let the cheese melt slightly, only a couple of minutes.  Remove the pizza from the heat and sprinkle with the raspberries.  Let the pizza cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Published in: on August 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm  Comments (4)  
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Greek Olive Paste

Greek Olive Paste

It doesn’t take long after coming home from vacation for the steady stream of daily to-do’s to wipe out my holiday induced calm. A couple of late nights at work, a family event or two, an overgrown lawn, and I’ve almost forgotten that I ever went to Greece.  Although it’s only been a few weeks, those lazy days on the Aegean sea seem like ages ago. If it weren’t for all of those lovely photos, I’d wonder if we even saw the Acropolis, or explored the mountains of Crete.

Greece Athens Acropolis temple of Athena

Does this happen to you? Does your habitual stress erase your vacation happiness?

In an effort to bring back those calm, sunny holiday hours, Jeff and I have been gravitating towards the food and drink of our vacation.  A tiny cup of Greek coffee in the afternoon, a few honeyed pistachios after dinner.  And most of all, this flavorful olive paste.  At almost every meal in Greece, we were served a big basket of country bread, a little dish of pungent olive oil, and a generous dollop of intense olive paste.  Even Jeff, a proclaimed olive hater, would slather this olive paste over crusty pieces of semolina bread.  Here at home, we’ve been devouring this olive paste as a snack, spread on sandwiches, tossed with grilled vegetables and drizzled over baked chicken.

Greek Olive Paste

In Crete, this olive paste is made with tiny black olives grown locally and used to produce some of the world’s best olive oil.  Here at home, I’ve been using kalamata olives, which give the olive paste a slightly creamier texture, but all in all produce a reasonably close copy of the Cretan staple. If you’re so inclined, it might be fun to experiment with different types of olives in this recipe.

Greek Olive Paste

makes a scant 1/2 cup

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/4 cup good quality olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of dried oregano

salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until mostly smooth, with a few small bits of olive remaining.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve with crusty bread or alongside grilled meats, on sandwiches, with a cheese plate, or tossed with fresh pasta.  The olive paste is best used right away, but will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in a covered container.

Published in: on June 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm  Comments (5)  
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Garden Fresh Double Radish Tartine

fresh french breakfast radishes

Radishes are a seriously underappreciated vegetable.  I could list all the reasons I love radishes (their pretty pink color, their crisp raw crunch, their sweet punchy flavor). But the real reason I adore radishes above all other early spring veggies is that I can grow them – fast. I love that moment, that thrill of pulling up on the bright little greens and seeing the pretty pink root beneath the dirt.  Radishes mature in just a few weeks, and are very forgiving.  They grow well in beds or in containers, they love cool weather, and will do just fine with only 5-6 hours of sun per day.  

Radishes and butter are a natural combination.  In France, raw radishes are served with sweet butter and flaky salt as a lively spring hors d’oeuvres.  In my own kitchen, I adore radishes braised with butter and dill as a sophisticated side dish with grilled salmon. But for a simple spring snack, this super quick double radish tarine hits the spot. 

organi radish sandwich

There is something about gardening that makes me feel frugal. With all the care and attention I’ve given these radishes, I don’t want to waste even a morsel. Which is why I’ve started using the radish greens, and I’m loving them! Baby radish greens are wonderful in salad, and more mature radish greens are tasty sautéed with garlic. Finely chopped, the radish greens make the herb butter in this tartine a really exciting spread. This  herb butter would be great on grilled fish, or tossed with pasta, and it’s great on pumpernickel bread. If you wanted to make this tartine a more substantial meal, a few thin sliced of hard-cooked egg would be a great addition.

organic garden radish

Double Radish Tartine

Serves 8

8 slices whole grain pumpernickel bread

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon finely chopped baby radish greens

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, divided

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh radishes

Toast the bread until crisp.  Allow the toast to cool (you do not want the butter to melt on the toast). Whip the softened butter with an electric mixer. Fold in the radish greens, half the dill, the chives, and the salt.  Spread the butter on each of the pieces of toast.  Arrange the radish slices on top of the butter and sprinkle with the remaining dill and additional salt to taste.  Serve as a light lunch or snack, or cut each tartine into four triangles and serve as party finger food for your next picnic.

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm  Comments (6)  
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A Duo of South African Inspired Dips

peppadew hummus and curry dip

I probably spent half of my six-month stint in South Africa in the grocery store.  Well, maybe not just the grocery store.  Outdoor markets, farmstands, and roadside cafes too.  But you get the idea. And when I left Cape Town, my suitcase was jam-packed with rusks and biltong and rooibos. 

Six years later, my friend Patrick continues to feed my South African food obsession with bi-annual care packages filled with everything from sachets of spices to cans of ostrich pate.  My own dear Patrick is Patrick Ashworth, of Ashworth Africa Tours and Safaris.  Patrick develops tailor-made tours and safaris in Southern Africa and is passionate about sharing all that is South African.  As such, my care packages usually include not only a heap of food, but a healthy dose of cultural education too.  From CDs to history books to recipes, I never know what I’ll find. 

What my months in Cape Town and my friendship with Patrick have taught me is that thing about South African cuisine is that there is no ‘thing’.  In Cape Town in particular, the food is a varied woven amalgamation of cultures and peoples and history.  It’s fusion cuisine unlike anything you’ll find on even the trendiest New York restaurant menu. 

Which makes it wonderfully fun food to stretch, create and reinvent.  You know, of course, that I can never leave well enough alone, that strict recipes make me feel hemmed in. So I adore South African influenced dishes for their adaptability. 

When Patrick visited last weekend, we celebrated his first trip to Connecticut, and the lovely warm weather, with some friends and some cocktails in the back yard.  Quick and easy snacks, like these two African-inspired (but certainly not authentic) dips, along with a big pitcher of Jeff’s mango-rooibos rum punch, and we had ourselves a party!

south african recipe

I love chips and dips for parties.  Easy to grab, fun to munch on, and perfect for making in advance. This peppadew hummus couldn’t be easier to make. The hardest part may be finding peppadew peppers. Peppadews are a native South African pepper, bright red, and both sweet and hot at the same time. My local Whole Foods carries them (next to the olives), but in a pinch you might substitute pickled jalapenos. Peppadew hummus may not be traditional, but it always seemed to me that Cape Town’s cooks threw peppadews in just about everything, so why not hummus?

As for the Cape Malay curry dip, it’s even easier than the hummus.  The curry dip, though, is really best made in advance, so let the flavors develop overnight in the fridge. Just as I never saw peppadew hummus in South Africa, I never had a yogurt curry dip in Cape Town either.  But Cape Malay curry is one of my all-time favorite South African dishes.  The Cape Malay community in Cape Town dates back to the 17th Century and has its roots in Southeast Asia.  Centuries of fusion have resulted in  mild, sweet, and flavorful curries that smell like heaven. 

peppade hummus and cape malay curry dip

Peppadew Hummus

2 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought hummus (I like this basic recipe from Ina Garten)

1/4 cup chopped peppadew peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the hummus and the peppers.  Drizzle with the oil and serve with chips, crackers or cut vegetables.

Mild Cape Malay Curry Dip

3 cups fat free plain Greek yogurt

1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

pinch of ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium-sized bowl stir together all ingredients until very well combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.  Serve garnished with some fresh herbs, if desired.

Published in: on April 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm  Comments (8)  
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Not Just For Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Feta Tart

french pumpkin tart with feta cheese

February is my least favorite month for cooking.  Oh sure, there is plenty of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, and little else to do besides putter in the kitchen all month.  Even so, every year, right about the middle of February, I lose steam.  With minimal produce for inspiration, and the holiday festivities a faded memory, I cave to take-out and frozen pizza more often than I’d like to admit. 

Do the winter blues hit you too?

As I sit here wishing for spring, planning my vegetable garden and dreaming of tiny strawberries, I’m attempting to jump start spring with a round of spring cleaning.  Today we tackled the basement and the kitchen cabinets.  And do you know what I found lurking at the back of my pantry?  A can of pumpkin.  It may not be a farmer’s market basket, but this vitamin-filled little can really jazzed up our quick winter supper.

You already know about my love of pumpkin.  Layered in a yogurt parfait, swirled into oatmeal, stuffed in ravioli, or baked in a cupcake, you really can’t go wrong with canned pumpkin. The slightly sweet earthy pumpkin works wonderfully with the salty tang of the feta and the nutty flavor of the swiss chard in this simple tart. A sliver of this tart would probably be a very nice appetizer for a fancy dinner party, but a big wedge also works well as a main course served with a big arugula salad dressed in good olive oil and lemon juice.

I like this Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust recipe from the wonderful Chocolate & Zucchini but you can use any tart crust you like.  You could even use refrigerated pie crust dough here and I’m sure the tart would still turn out wonderfully.  I do think that a good tart pan, with a removable bottom, is pretty important, though.  Before investing in a tart pan (really, not a very big expenditure) I made many mediocre tarts in a pie plate.  The too-deep, flat sides of the pie dish result in a soggy crust, and an unpleasant filling-to-crust ratio.  If you don’t have a tart pan, you might be better off making a rustic crostada – just roll out the dough on a baking sheet, spread the filling in the middle, leaving a two-inch border.  Fold the crust edges into the middle, brush with a bit of oil, and bake until golden.

Pumpkin Feta Tart

Serves 6 (as a main course)

1 recipe of tart crust dough 

3/4 cup thinly sliced onion

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced fresh swiss chard

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups canned pumpkin

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully press the crust into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.  Saute the onion in oil over medium heat until soft and just beginning to darken. Add in the swiss chard and cook 1 minute more. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir in the rosemary.  Remove from the heat.  In a medium sized bowl, stir the pumpkin and the eggs well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the crust from the refrigerator.  Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly in the crust.  Sprinkle the swiss chard mixture evenly over the pumpkin mixture and top with the feta cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Published in: on February 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm  Comments (12)  
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