In my mind there are few things more perfect than a french tart filled with peak season vegetables. And there are few things that give me more joy to pull out of the oven. That is what I am here to talk to you all about today. A tartilicious creation of perfect proportions, and one that I think you should try out in your own kitchen. Before we get too far in this dialogue, I will admit that, yes, a proper french tart can be a bit of a time suck to produce. However, like bread, most of this time is down time when little active work needed. In fact, in some ways, it is even simpler to produce than bread as the crust can chill in the refrigerator for an extended period of time, and the success of the tart does not require that you are in a specific place at a specific time to conduct the next step of the process. Additionally the tart crust recipe listed below produces not one but two tart crusts, so you can use one for this tart and reserve a second for a later use.
While we are on the subject of peak season produce, I want to talk to you about the two, slightly unusual, vegetables used in this dish. Lets start at the source. As I may have mentioned before, I am not the biggest fan of the large Downtown Farmers market, most of the vendors there seem – well, not so farm like. It has always stuck me as more of a big farm farmers market, where the largest of the area’s farms come to sell truck loads of mass produced fruits and veggies. But, after a recent Saturday morning trip to the downtown venue I realized that there are some real gems at the market that I had not noticed before.
The tatsoi is from one of my favorite farms in the Nashville area, Devlin Farms, which also makes an appearance at the weekly east side farmers market on our block. Dustin and I have a particular penchant for greens and I was excited to see this varietal I had never from one of my favorite growers. I didn’t hesitate to buy a bunch and took the green goodies home in hopes of transforming them into some delicious recipe. As it turns out, tatsoi tastes quite similar to one of my favorite leafy green vegetables, mustard greens. Like mustard greens the tatsoi is relatively quick cooking, especially when compared with tougher greens like collards.
But the true star of the show in this dish, and the highlight of my Saturday morning trip to the market were the Sunchokes. As of late, I have been visiting a new stand that makes an appearance at the market on saturday mornings. This small farm reminds me so much of the CSA I joined back in Philly, their produce is so clearly small farm produced, each week new veggies make an appearance picked just at the peak of ripeness. This week, sitting in a basket at the front of the stall was a grouping of odd shaped, craggy tubers. I asked the stall owner what they were and he explained to me that they were jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, a North American root vegetable that is a member of the daisy family. I had had sunchokes in purees at upscale restaurants before and remembered that they were potato like with a slightly sweet and distinctly nutty flavor. I bought just under a pound and took them home to plot out a plan of attack.
Scouring through stacks of cookbooks for recipes incorporating sunchokes, I came across a recipe in the “Ottolenghi” cookbook for a sunchoke tart with kale and feta and it stuck me that I could use both of my farmers market finds to make one of my all time favorite treats, the savory tart. And, TADA, we come full circle, to this recipe below for a french style, quiche-like tart which marries seasonal nutty sunchokes and herbaceous tatsoi into a single cohesive dish with relative easy. I highly suggest you try it out at home, it is simply outstanding when paired with a simple salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. I warn that you though, that you may get hooked, as I have, on making tarts – but luckily, your family and friends will love you for it.
Sunchoke, Tatsoi, and Feta Tart
Start with the flaky pastry dough – this will require making the dough, chilling it, rolling it out and forming the crust, and chilling again before baking. Start this one day ahead of when you want to serve the tart.
Flaky Pastry Dough
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 TSP Salt
1 TSP Baking Powder
12 TBSP Unsalted Butter, Cut into 12 Pieces
2 Lg Eggs
Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
Add butter and pulse in 1-second intervals until the butter appears in small pieces that are no more than 1/4 inch across.
Add eggs and pulse until the dough almost forms a ball (don’t over do it – over mixing will make the dough tough and less flaky)
Invert the dough onto a floured work surface and gently press into a cohesive mass.
Divide the dough in half and gently flatten each half into a disc (again, remembering not to over work the dough here.)
Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 3 hours.) Dough keeps in the refrigerator for around 3 days and can be frozen to use at a later date for about 3 months.
Once dough has chilled remove it from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a floured work surface. Roll the dough into a large circle, being careful to flip the dough and re-flour after every few strokes. The circle should be about 13 inches in diameter.
Gently fold the dough in half and slide your hands under it. Lift and place atop the pan. Unfold the dough onto the pan. Evenly fir the dough into the pan making sure it is flat against the bottom. Fold the extra dough in against the sides, if there is a lot of extra in a single area trim it so that there is only about 1/2 inch hanging off the edge before turning it in to reinforce the sides.
Wrap and chill for at least 6 hours – if you have the type of tart pan that has a removable bottom – be careful how you carry it as the bottom will pop out and create a mess. If you have room for it in the fridge, you can place the pan on a baking sheet which will make moving it a lot easier.
While the dough is chilling start on the filling. (I’m quite the poet aren’t I)
3/4 Lb Sunchokes, Scrubbbed (not peeled) and Sliced into 1/2 cm Slices
1/2 a Large Bunch of Tatsoi, Chopped Crosswise into 1.5 Inch Strips and Then Halved Down the Center
1 Small to Medium Yellow Onion Sliced
2 Cloves Garlic Smashed and Roughly Chopped
1 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TSP Kosher Salt, Divided
1/2 TSP Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, Divided
1 Cup Half and Half
2 TBSP Creme Fraiche
2 Eggs Beaten
1/2 Cup of Feta, Broken into Small Pieces
2 TBSP Flat Leaf Parsley, Thick Stems Trimmed off, Chopped
When the tart shell has about 30 mins left to chill preheat the oven to 375 degrease.
Place sunchokes in a large sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil until softened but still toothsome, don’t overcook – they will become rather mushy in the center.
Drain and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Set a large frying pan over medium het. Once the pan is hot add olive oil and heat. Add onions and sautee until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sautee until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add tatsoi and toss to combine. Cook until just wilted, remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.
Mix together half and half, creme fraiche, and eggs, add a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.
Remove tart shell from the fridge and place on the counter, unwrap. Layer (drained) sunchokes, feta, parsley, and tatsoi on the bottom of the tart shell. Pour the filling over the top being careful not to entirely submerge the filling, you want to be able to see specks of greens and bits sunchokes peeking over the surface of the egg mixture.
Place the tart, on a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins. Remove from the oven and carefully tent with tin foil, making sure to cover the edges of the crust with the foil to protect them from burning. Place back in the oven for an additional 30 mins.
Once the tart filling has set, and the tart is no longer wet in the center, it is done. Place on a cooking rack to cool and serve warm.
It is just so good that I recommend you try to remember what your kindergarten teacher taught you, and share with others.