This morning when I woke up it was 56 degrees. Fahrenheit. And I had to snuggle real hard under the blanket and it smelled like fall and a little bit of last night’s rain outside. It made me so very happy and ready for more.
This is why I gotta get the heck out of Dallas for residency. Because sitting on the couch in the morning clutching a giant mug of coffee when it’s already a million degrees outside is just not the same, and it’s gross, and not the same, and the worst. Time to go some place where it’s not a fluke that it’s cool in the middle of September. Because now I’m just all excited for fall, and sweatpants, and all the half-zip sweatshirts, and plum shades of lipstick, and butternut squash soup. And I’m fairly certain it will be back to 90 degrees by Friday.
In the meantime, until it’s actually fall, we’re just stockpiling recipes that we’re excited to make when it finally is fall. Like giant whole heads of roasted cauliflower. And beer mac and cheese (let’s be honest, we’ll make this even if it isn’t fall weather). And a big pot of white beans and tomatoes and parmesan and amazing.
And finally, many variations on the Very Full Tart from Ottolenghi’s Plenty. We made this on Labor Day, because while everyone else was outside grilling, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to spend hours making the most amazing tart that has ever existed. Lots of therapeutic chopping of vegetables – everything from eggplant to zucchini to sweet potatoes. Lots of slowly roasting said vegetables (because is there a better way to prepare veggies?) and caramelizing onions. (By caramelizing, I mean we cooked them a little too long so they were extra brown, then used white wine to de-glaze the pan, and I absolutely wouldn’t do it any other way.)
As amazing as all of the parts of this tart were – from the flaky crust to the bits of feta cheese to the fresh tomatoes – this tart was defs greater than the sum of its parts (rhyming?). It was perfect for linner with a salad, and it was perfect for breakfast straight out of the fridge. I’m excited to keep making it all year, using whatever veggies are in season.
Very Full Roasted Vegetable Tart
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow or orange bell pepper
5-6 TBS olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut roughly into 2-inch dice
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1-inch dice (I was skeptical about this addition but it was SO AMAZING)
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice
2 medium onions (I used 1 yellow and 1 sweet), thinly sliced
2 TBS white wine
2 bay leaves
leaves from 8 thyme sprigs
1/3 cup ricotta (part-skim or whole milk)
5 oz feta, crumbled
small handful cherry tomatoes, halved OR 1 small tomato, quartered and sliced
2 eggs (original calls for medium but I used large and it was fine)
1 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
your favorite pie crust (probably half the recipe as this is a single crust tart)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions.
2. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and pull out the seeded core. Place the peppers in a small baking dish, then drizzle with 1 TBS olive oil and place on the upper-middle oven rack.
3. Place the diced eggplant in a large baking dish. Toss with 3-4 TBS olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the eggplant evenly in the baking dish. Roast for 12 mins. After 12 mins, add the diced sweet potato to the same dish and mix the vegetables gently. Roast for another 12 mins, then add the zucchini, mixing again to combine evenly. Roast for 10 mins.
4. Remove the peppers and the vegetables from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325F. The skin of the peppers should be browning in spots. Leave the peppers in their baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Let cool for 15 minutes. Once cool, slide the skin off the peppers then roughly cut into strips.
5. Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions, bay leaves, and a couple pinches of salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned. Pour white wine into the pan, scraping the brown bits off the bottom. Set onions aside to cool.
6. Roll out the pie crust to a roughly 13-inch circle. Place in either a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom or 9-inch pie pan (what we did). Gently press into the pan, then fold over the overhang to form a crust. Line the crust with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights (or dried beans or rice). Bake the crust for 30 minutes, then remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Continue baking the crust for 10-15 more minutes, until it is lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
7. While the crust is cooling, whisk together the eggs and milk until smooth.
8. Evenly scatter the cooked onions over the bottom of the crust. Top with roasted vegetables (save the peppers for last!). Sprinkle half of the thyme leaves over the vegetables, then evenly dot the feta and ricotta over this mixture. Evenly distribute the tomatoes and roasted peppers on top.
9. Carefully pour the egg-milk mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with remaining thyme. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the filling is just set. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Tart will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days.
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty
This tart is definitely a labor of love, but there are no complicated techniques involved. And the result is completely worth it. Thanks for reading, happy baking!