Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spring Vegetable Tart with Herb Whole Wheat Crust

I can't believe it's almost summer! I have always felt that summer kicked off with Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend of May in the U.S.). However, since I moved to Florida a few years ago, I often find myself forgetting what time of year it is due to the near constant sunshine and tropical climate. I am not complaining, just explaining why I happen to be a little late with my "spring" tart. At least I snuck it in before the holiday weekend!

Although I think of asparagus, green onions and mushrooms as spring vegetables, they are available year round just about everywhere. If you are lucky enough to get hold of some fresh wild mushrooms, like chanterelles, they would make this tart extra special. The simple ricotta and feta cheese filling makes the tart substantial enough to be a main course and would be a great base for other vegetable tarts-- a summer version with eggplant and tomato comes to mind.

I have done several variations on my whole wheat tart crust in the past few months, and I think I have settled on this one as my favorite. I love adding rosemary to the dough for extra flavor and fragrance. I like to freeze the dough in the tart pan before I bake it because this seems to encourage it to hold its shape when it hits the hot oven. If you can't get enough tart-making, here is another savory option.

Spring Vegetable Tart with Herb Whole Wheat Crust
Makes 1-9 to 11 inch tart

1 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz.), cut into small cubes and chilled
¼ to ½ c. ice water

1 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. Portobello mushrooms, cut into 2 inch pieces
5 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ c. ricotta cheese
½ c. crumbled feta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a food processor, pulse the flours, 1⁄2 tsp. salt, and rosemary to combine. Add the cold, diced butter and pulse until you have a coarse mixture roughly the size of small peas. Sprinkle ¼ c. of the ice water over the flour mixture, then pulse again, adding additional water as needed until the dough just starts to come together. It should still look scraggly and a little sandy at this point. You don’t want to get it so wet that it forms a ball in the food processor.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pressing and kneading it together and forming it into a disk. Roll the dough out into a 12 or 13 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick, with a floured rolling pin, keeping the dough moving on your floured surface so it does not stick. Drape the dough over your rolling pin and transfer it into a 9 to 11 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the sides of pan and trim any excess dough hanging over the edges. You can use these extra pieces to patch any holes. Prick the dough all over with a fork and freeze for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake the frozen tart crust for 20 minutes or until just beginning to color.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling: heat half the oil in a large skillet to medium-high. Add the asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until soft. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a bowl. Add the remaining oil and the mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the asparagus, add the fresh thyme and gently stir to combine the vegetables.

In another bowl, combine the ricotta and feta. Season with pepper and just a pinch of salt (because the feta is salty). Stir in the egg. Spread the cheese mixture over the surface of the tart crust. Pour the vegetables over the cheese. Bake the tart at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly puffed. Cool for 10-15 minutes and serve.

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Peabody said...

Oh yum, the tart looks fresh and wonderufl.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Right on with freeze the dough in the pan, I agree it helps hold the shape but I think also it helps make it flaky!
And yes to the herb in the crust, that's a rule at my house. Pizza dough also!
Wonderful tart, love the mix on the mushrooms and asparagus.

Lydia said...

Thanks for the tip about freezing the dough in the pan -- I've never tried that. I do love adding herbs to the dough -- thyme is my absolute favorite. This tart looks lovely!

Patricia Scarpin said...

What a delicious tart, Julie - I'll try adding herbs to the dough next time I make tart!

Brilynn said...

That sounds wonderful and fresh and something that I'd like to eat while sitting out on the back porch!

Julie said...

Peabody: thanks!
Tanna: you know I never thought of putting herbs in my pizza dough...yum.
Lydia: freezing really does help.
Patricia: thanks!
Brilynn: I totally agree; I just wish I had a back porch:)

Kristen said...

Spring like indeed. That looks really good!