I dreamed of this tart for days but I was too busy to make it … I could picture it in my mind: a lovely summer tart filled with garlic and herb-infused Ricotta and Asiago cheeses, topped with rows of beautifully overlapping garden fresh tomato and tender little purple eggplant slices. Finally I could not stand it any longer. I had to make it. It was nearing twilight, so I rushed to finish it in time to have enough light to photograph it. I was using these lovely little purple eggplant from mom’s garden and some of those little tomatoes that pretty perfectly matched the diameter of the eggplant.
It turned out beautiful … but the cornmeal crust I had thought would be so good was just awful (re-confirming my irrational fear of pie crust). It looked perfectly lovely … I tried eating it, but ended up eating the topping and leaving the crust … I stuck the tart in the fridge overnight while I considered what to do … the next night I went and bought some puff pastry at the store, scraped the topping off the old crust, roasted some more eggplant and re-made the tart, again rushing to beat the impending darkness. This time, it turned out MUCH better, taste-wise, but not quite as pretty. I had used up all the tomatoes that matched the size of the eggplant so I couldn’t get that perfect layered effect. I used one of the darker Japanese eggplant in hopes that it would match the size of the larger tomatoes, but it didn’t at all. And this tart was square, not round. I don’t think I allowed the puff pastry enough time to thaw because the crust really wasn’t as puffy as it should have been. But despite all that, it tasted oh so wonderful. Almost as good as my dream tart.
Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart
- 1 sheet of puff pastry (or a pie crust would work if you are not afraid of such things like me)
- About 2 small, tender eggplant
- Several small tomatoes (with a diameter that roughly matches the eggplant)
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese + a few extra tablespoons for the top
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- Several sprigs of fresh tarragon and basil, chopped
- Thaw your puff pastry or prepare the pie crust.
- Slice the eggplant thinly (about 1/8 inch thick) and place on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and dust with Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt. Bake eggplant at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant slices are tender. (These little tender eggplant don’t require any peeling or salting.)
- While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes thinly and set them aside.
- Mix the ricotta, asiago, garlic and about half of the chopped herbs.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out the puff pastry (or place the pie crust in your tart pan). Spread the ricotta filling almost to the edge of the crust, then arrange alternating layers of the eggplant and tomato slices on top. If you are using puff pastry, roll up the edge of the pastry just a bit and pinch the corners. Sprinkle with a little asiago cheese and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or so or until the pastry has browned on the edges and the cheese is all melted.
- Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh herbs. Slice and serve immediately.
This is a Secret Recipe Club post. If you haven’t heard of the Secret Recipe Club, it’s made up of a group of food bloggers. Each month every blogger in the club is “assigned” another participating food blogger to make a recipe from. You choose any recipe from the blog you are assigned, make or bake it, and blog about it, then everyone in your group posts their “secret recipes” on the same date and time. It’s really quite fun.
This month I was assigned Art from my Table. I was immediately intrigued by the name of the blog and excited to dig into Chellie’s recipes. She has such a variety of things to choose from! It took me a while to figure out what to make, but once I saw these little tarts, I was totally hooked.
I don’t make pastries or pies very often … wait, no, that’s not true … I don’t make pies or pastries AT ALL. Unless my dad is around to make the crust for me. I have a huge crust-phobia. But pumpkin, sage, and goat cheese? In a cute little bite? Seriously. That was totally something I had to try. And I really love that I can freeze the dough (and filling) for later, so I don’t have to make them all at once. I have instant impressive appetizers just waiting in my freezer! Next time I will crimp the edges better, though, because most of them opened up like an oyster shell peeking out at you. The crust turned out nice and flaky and tender, though … what was I so afraid of?
Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Mini-Pies
Recipe from Art from my Table
For the Dough:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/3 stick of unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- 1 egg beaten
- 3 tbs heavy cream or yogurt (more if needed … I used plain lowfat yogurt)
- Place flour, salt and butter in a big bowl. Work with your fingertips or with a pastry blender ‘til the mixture resembles coarse meal. You want to keep some visible pieces of butter
- Beat together egg and 3 tbsp of cream. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Using your fingertips, mix them smoothly by making circular movements. Don’t knead the dough.
- Keep mixing. The dough should come together quickly and if it doesn’t happen, add one more tablespoon of yogurt. (I did.) It was still crumbly, though, but it did form okay into a ball.
- Don’t worry about spots, visible pieces of butter and stripes of yogurt; they are a good sign. Press to form a ball, cover and keep in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Note: You can keep this dough in the freezer for about a month. Just place it in the fridge and let it defrost overnight before using.
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 small onion chopped
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tbs fresh sage chopped
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 4 oz goat cheese
How to assemble the little pies:
- Preheat oven to 350F˚.
- Place dough in a floured surface and roll it out into a 1/8 inch thin layer. Using a 4 inch round cookie cutter cut the dough into circles. Place the pumpkin filling in the center of the circle, crumble or place a bit of cheese on top of the pumpkin filling and fold the dough over into a semicircle.
- Crimp down the edges and arrange in a baking sheet. Keep doing the same process until the dough is gone (or till you get tired of making them and then just freeze the rest of the dough and filling in separate containers for another time). It should make about 24 little pies.
- Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame and poppy seeds, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden in color.