Meatless Monday – Easy Zucchini & Tomato Tart

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Today is the first day of Summer!  It is also Summer Solstice when the sun is at it’s highest point in the sky, which means it’s the longest day of the year, with about 17 hours of sunlight, and the shortest night. 2016 is a special year, because the solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, a once-in-a-lifetime occurence. A Strawberry Moon is a full moon in June, named by early Native American tribes because it marks the beginning of the strawberry season. The two events coincide only once every 70 years so make sure you look up at the moon tonight. You may not get another chance!

So summer.  Nothing captures summer’s delicious bounty like zucchini and tomatoes that are abundant and so good this time of year! If you aren’t lucky enough to have a small garden, this is also the time of year that they are the most affordable, thanks to supply and demand.  Luckily, they are great together and can be combined many different ways.  This is an easy tart to assemble, especially if you use a prepared pie crust.  It has layers of a garlicky ricotta parmesan mixture, thinly sliced zucchini and ripe tomatoes all baked together into a delicious and creamy tart.  This is a great vegetarian main course or a stunning party dish to share.

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I didn’t make my own crust for this one because I was pressed for time (no shame in that-even bloggers take shortcuts sometimes), however, my favorite homemade pie crust is one from King Arthur Flour which uses white whole wheat flour (yes, that is a thing).  White whole wheat flour is almost as light as traditional white flour but has all of the nutrition and none of the heaviness of regular whole wheat flour.  For those who like to make their own crust, this is an easy and good one.  Click through on the link below for the recipe.

If you are looking for other vegetable tart ideas, one of my favorite, and most popular recipes, is a Summer Vegetable Tart that combines zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mozzarella which is another great combination.  Click through below for the recipe.

Regardless of what vegetables you put into the tart, it’s a sure winner.  It’s also a great way to use up extra garden veggies.  If you slice them thin enough, you could substitute or add almost any vegetable for the zucchini.  Since this tart cooks for almost an hour, most vegetables will get done, however, if you have something that is more fibrous or hard to slice thinly, you could par-boil it for a minute or two before arranging in the tart.

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TIPS:  Tomatoes shrink when cooked, so feel free to generously overlap the slices for full coverage. Next time I will overlap even more. Using a variety of sizes and colors makes a prettier dish.  For cherry tomatoes, slice in half and press the curved side down into the ricotta mixture.

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EASY ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO TART

  • 1 pie crust
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (or other grated cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • olive oil spray

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  • Prepare all herbs and veggies. Preheat oven to   375°F.

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  • .Place pie crust in a pie pan and crimp edges, if desired

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  • In a medium bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, garlic, basil and parmesan.

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  • Spread half of the ricotta mixture evenly over the crust.

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  • Arrange the zucchini evenly on top of the ricotta mixture.

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  • Carefully spread the remaining ricotta mixture over the zucchini.

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  • Arrange the tomato slices over the top. Spray the tomatoes with olive oil (or use a brush) and sprinkle with salt and pepper, dried oregano, basil or thyme.

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  • Bake until the crust is golden brown and the ricotta has set, 45-60 minutes. To brown the tomatoes, broil the last 5 minutes.

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  • Top with additional parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

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  • Let it cool slightly before serving.

Zucchini and Tomato Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 pie crust
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • olive oil spray
  1. Prepare all herbs and veggies. Preheat oven to   375°F.
  2. .Place pie crust in a pie pan and crimp edges, if desired
  3. In a medium bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, garlic, basil and parmesan.
  4. Spread half of the ricotta mixture evenly over the crust.
  5. Arrange the zucchini evenly on top of the ricotta mixture.
  6. Carefully spread the remaining ricotta mixture over the zucchini.
  7. Arrange the tomato slices over the top
  8. Spray the tomatoes with olive oil (or use a brush) and sprinkle with salt and pepper, dried oregano, basil or thyme.
  9. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the ricotta has set, 45-60 minutes. To brown the tomatoes, broil the last 5 minutes.
  10. Top with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired.
  11. Let it cool slightly before serving.

Meatless Monday – Spring Vegetable Tart with Asparagus and Artichoke Hearts

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Nothing says spring like artichokes, asparagus and spring peas.  Here they are featured in a creamy puff pastry tart dotted with fresh herbs. Cherry tomatoes add a dash of color and a pop of sweetness. This tart is very pretty and great for parties or special occasions, like Mother’s Day Brunch, perhaps.  I made it for a ladies luncheon and it was a big hit. Best of all, it is deceptively easy, no pre-cooking or extra pans.  Just defrost a sheet of puff pastry, mix ricotta with garlic, feta and basil, and spread it on the pastry. Decorate with raw veggies and pop it in the oven.  Gorgeous and ready in 25 minutes.

Spring is my favorite season.   The hills are vibrant green from winter rains and wildflowers abound. Crocuses have pushed their way out of the damp earth and gorgeous camelias are in bloom.  My favorite spring flower, though, is the California poppy, so cheerful and delicate but hardy and tenacious enough to grow in the most dire of situations. I’m just sorry they don’t last all year long. But I digress.  Let’s go back to our other harbingers of spring, asparagus and artichokes, both of which add not only color but a lovely combination of flavors as well as fiber and loads of important vitamins and minerals.

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Ricotta is certainly not a diet food, as it is fat laden and high in calories, but it does have a surprising number of nutrients to offer as well. Riccotta is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin B-12, riboflavin, phosphorous and zinc.  The fat in ricotta is mostly saturated fat which can reek havoc on cholesterol levels but lower fat versions are available, if that is a concern, but they also offer less protein. You could also try substituting cottage cheese as a lower fat alternative.  However, as a special occasion dish, I would encourage the full fat version.

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TIPS:  I used a combination of ricotta and feta cheeses.  If you are not a fan of feta, substitute goat cheese or another soft cheese that you enjoy.  You can also just add grated hard cheeses like parmesan, asiago and fontina but may not want to add a whole cup.  Taste before adding the eggs to be sure you got the combination right. When spreading the ricotta mixture, make sure you leave a wide border as the cheese has a tendency to expand and you could lose your border. Don’t skip the fresh herbs…

I adapted this recipe from http://www.prouditaliancook.com

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SPRING VEGETABLE TART

This recipe makes one tart about 12″ x 16″,  two smaller round tarts or 6 individual 4×4 squares.

  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 cups ricotta, drained if necessary
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts (frozen or canned in water), defrosted and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsn fresh thyme sprigs
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  • Prepare all herbs and veggies. Preheat oven to   400°F.

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  • Unfold the pastry onto a piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll pastry ½ in. bigger on all sides. Slide the pastry and parchment  onto a large baking sheet.

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  • In a medium bowl beat the eggs until combined.  Brush the outer 1 inch edge of the pastry with the egg wash and prick the center with a fork in about a dozen places to prevent the center from rising.

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  • Add the ricotta, garlic, basil and parmesan to the remaining eggs and stir until well mixed together.

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  • Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the pastry leaving a generous one inch border all the way around(ricotta will expand in the oven).

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  • Arrange the veggies evenly into the ricotta mixture, pressingly slightly.

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  • Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan.

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  • Bake in a 400 F. oven until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes and the ricotta has set.

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  • Top with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired. Let it cool slightly before serving.

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Spring Vegetable Tart

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160325_124248

This recipe makes one tart about 12″ x 16″,  two smaller round tarts or 6 individual 4×4 squares.

  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 cups ricotta, drained if necessary
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts (frozen or canned in water), defrosted and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsn fresh thyme sprigs
Instructions
  1. Prepare all herbs and veggies. Preheat oven to   400°F.
  2. Unfold the pastry onto a piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll pastry ½ in. bigger on all sides. Slide the pastry and parchment  onto a large baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl beat the eggs until combined.  Brush the outer 1 inch edge of the pastry with the egg wash and prick the center with a fork in about a dozen places to prevent the center from rising..
  4. Add the ricotta, garlic, basil and parmesan to the remaining eggs and stir until well mixed together.
  5. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the pastry leaving a generous one inch border all the way around (ricotta will expand in the oven).
  6. Arrange the veggies evenly into the ricotta mixture, pressingly slightly.
  7. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan.
  8. Bake in a 400 F. oven until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes and the ricotta has set.
  9. Top with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired.
  10. Let it cool slightly before serving.