I LOVE making tarts, savory or sweet. Certainly I make my share of quiches, but, honestly, I like anything in a pastry shell. My tart pan with its removable bottom is one piece of kitchen equipment I could never do without. An empty pastry shell is excellent vehicle for turning leftovers or random vegetables in the refrigerator into an elegant-looking meal.
My go-to pastry crust recipe comes from Mark Bittman. Last week, by way of David Lebovitz, I discovered another pastry crust that you must add to your repertoire. This one is a press-in crust made from MELTED butter. The technique is unusual but oh-so-easy. You melt butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt in the oven until the butter browns. Then, you stir in flour and press the dough into the pan. The baked crust is incredibly flaky. The only caveat is that David doesn’t recommend using this crust for a wet filling.
To test out the recipe, I made a beet green tart (sorry, no picture) and found myself falling in love with this crust. All week, I’ve been dreaming about other fillings to try. I was thinking about something with roasted zucchini, when the perfect inspiration came along.
I had all the required vegetables from my CSA share, so I made Ratatouille Tian (from the delightful Clothide of Chocolate and Zucchini’s new book). This mélange of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions is gorgeous to behold. Howard, of course, doesn’t eat eggplant or zucchini, but we had friends coming for dinner, so I had people to share it with.
The tian made more than we could eat; more than half was leftover. For lunch, I packed the leftover tian into a pastry shell and topped it with crumbled goat cheese for a Ratatouille Tart. It was everything I hoped for.
What other summer fillings can you suggest I try?
Serves 4 to 6
Preheat the oven to 350F. Fill the pastry shell with ratatouille, as decoratively as possible. Scatter the crumbled goat cheese over the filling evenly.
Bake for 20 minutes, until filling is warm and cheese starts to brown.