Monday, October 29, 2007

Zucchini and Braised Lettuce Tart with Tapenade

Those Green Monster Peanut Butter Cookies sure did the trick! Five days later the Red Sox have swept the series to become world champs...woohoo! I thought I would have to make more Boston-themed food to cheer them on, but hardly got the chance.

This past weekend was spent exclusively on my birthday festivities, and that made the Red Sox sweep even more fun. We saw a great scary movie, went out to my current favorite restaurant in Miami, laid out on the beach (in October!), went shopping in a mall with a Legal Seafoods so we could eat oysters and New England whole-bellied fried clams, and had a rich, gooey mocha cake that Mike made for me last night. My actual birthday is today, but Mike and I both believe in prolonged celebrations...we have so much fun, I don't mind getting older at all. Well, how old are you, you may be wondering...I'm 29, and I'm already sad that I have to wait a whole year for my next birthday!

Now, finally, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite things I've made, ever. This tart is from a recipe in Eric Kayser's Sweet and Savory Tarts, which I read about in this post on the beautiful blog, Kuidaore. If you are a tart junkie like me, get this book. It's creative, it contains a picture of every tart, and it has great master recipes for many types of French pastry dough. I made this as a side dish for pepper-crusted steak, and it totally stole the show. Many of Kayser's tarts have a custard base, but this is lighter, and perfect as a special side. I have cooked lettuce before with good results, but the braised butter lettuce here is so indescribably savory, sweet and lettuce-y...I've never tasted anything like it, and I love when a recipe leads me to rethink foods I eat all the time, like greens.

Tapenade serves as a salty, garlicky base for the lettuce and zucchini.
To simplify life, I bought prepared tapenade, and it was nice to have that component take care of. I'll probably make my own next time, just because I like to. Kayser's recipe did not call for anything more, but I felt this light tart needed a little hit of richness, so I shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese over the top...perfect.

If you haven't tackled savory tarts, this one is a cinch. If you're looking for something different, this is it. I have quite a few tarts on this blog, like
- Caramelized Onion-Blue Cheese
- Mushroom-Asparagus-Ricotta
- and Swiss Chard-Pine Nut Custard Tart, but this is my current darling.

Kayser's book has loads of fruit and sweet tarts too. In a great coincidence of the blogosphere, many wonderful baking bloggers tried Kayser's Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart recently. Take a look at some versions on Peabody's, Ivonne's, Veronica's and Fanny's blogs. If I was forced to take sides, I'd have to choose savory over sweet tarts, but luckily I can have braised lettuce one day and milk chocolate the is truly delicious.

Zucchini and Braised Lettuce Tart with Tapenade

Adapted from Eric Kayser’s Sweet and Savory Tarts

Pâte Brisée is the same as pie pastry, so I deviated from Kayser’s method of mixing the room temperature ingredients by hand, and used made the pastry as I would make a pie crust--mixing cold ingredients in my food processor. I highly recommend using a scale to weigh your dry ingredients when baking. This book provided weight and volume measurements, but they were shockingly inconsistent (seriously--if I went by volume, I would have used nearly twice as much flour). If you go by weight, you can’t mess up. Kayser recommends unbleached all-purpose flour, but I used half AP and half whole wheat pastry flour. You can’t tell the difference, and it’s nice to know the pastry is a little more wholesome.

Makes 1-8 or 9 inch square tart (round or rectangular tart pans also work)

For the Pâte Brisée:
210 grams flour
5 grams salt (about 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
1/4 cup ice water, plus extra as needed

For the tart:
2 large zucchini, or 3 small, sliced lengthwise, about 1/4-inch thick
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 heads butter lettuce (or substitute 1 head romaine)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth
4 oz. tapenade
Thinly shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse for a few seconds to form coarse crumbs. Turn the processor on and pour 1/4 cup ice water through the chute, running just until the dough starts to come together. Feel the dough between your fingers to insure it is moist enough to stick together, but not wet. If needed, sprinkle on another tablespoon water and pulse. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and bring it together to form a ball. Knead for a few seconds, press into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes, or overnight. If you chill the dough for several hours or more, remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling.

Set the broiler to high. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the zucchini on top. Spray the zucchini and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until soft and beginning to brown, then flip and cook on the opposite side, about 10-12 minutes total.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out 1/4-inch thick and two or three inches larger than your tart pan. Fit the dough into the pan, gently but firmly pressing dough into the edges and sides of the pan. Trim off excess and prick all over with a fork. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the dough and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 30 minutes, or until dough is cooked through and edges start to color. Pastry will be quite pale even when it is baked. You may pre-bake the pastry several hours ahead.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for one to two minutes. Add the lettuce and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add more if necessary to keep a thin layer of liquid on the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook two to three minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread the tapenade over the bottom of the pastry shell. Layer half the zucchini, all the braised lettuce and the remaining zucchini. Place tart pan on a baking sheet, return to oven and bake for five minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, top with thinly shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese and serve either warm or at room temperature.

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1 comment:

Lydia said...

Wow -- I have never seen a lettuce tart before, and with tapenade it sounds delicious. Will bookmark this recipe.