It does take some time to put this tart together, but the work can be done beforehand, and it is certainly worth the effort.
By Chris Scheuer
Did I hear you thinking that you really need to be eating more veggies? I’ve got quite the the perfect recipe for you; a delightful meal-in-one tart recipe from Ottolenghi, one of the most famous cafés in London – it’s loaded with fresh veggies and so delicious, you’ll never miss the meat!
I made this fabulous tart for dinner last night and invited my son and daughter-in-law. It was a perfect, light, Mediterranean-style dinner with a salad and some crusty bread. We all mmmmm-ed throughout the meal and declared it quite “blog-worthy”! You won’t believe the cast of veggie-characters included in this lovely tart; eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, sweet potatoes, onions and tomatoes all tied together with with a yummy filling that includes ricotta and feta cheeses along with eggs and cream.
It does take some time to put this tart together since all the vegetables need to be diced and roasted, but the work can be done early in the day and a purchased crust eliminates extra effort. I did make a homemade crust this time, but decided I won’t bother in the future as the delicious veggies and cheeses are definitely the stars of the show in this wonderful tart.
You could definitely swap veggies depending on your taste and the season. The fresh thyme could also be exchanged for rosemary, sweet basil or a combination of fresh herbs. To save a bit more time, substitute a jar of roasted peppers for the red and yellow bell peppers. I think goat cheese would be a delicious replacement for the ricotta – I guess what I’m trying to say is that this recipe is not only incredibly delicious, it’s extremely versatile. You must try it, it’s a keeper.
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 5 tablesoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium eggplants (aubergine), cut into 1-inch dice
- 2 medium sweet potato (kumara) , peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 medium zucchini (courgette), cut into ½-inch dice
- 2 medium onions, cut in half and then cut in thin wedges
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 purchased or homeade pie or shortcrust pastry
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs, picked
- 4 ounces Ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces Feta cheese
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup half and half
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450?F (230?C). Cover a large baking sheet with foil.
- Cut peppers in half and discard seeds and stem. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and place on one side of the prepared sheet pan.
- On the opposite side of the baking sheet, combine the eggplant with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 12 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes to the eggplant and stir to combine. Roast for another 12 minutes, then add zucchini, return to oven and roast 12 more minutes. After a total roasting time of 36 minutes the peppers should be charred in places and the other veggies golden and quite fragrant. Remove from oven and immediately cover the peppers with foil. Once the peppers are cool, the skin will easily slip off. Remove the skins and cut into 1" pieces.
- While the veggies are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions with the bay leaves and a half teaspoon of salt for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, soft and sweet. Discard the bay leaves and set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375?F (160?C). Line a 11-inch shallow tart pan (or a 9-inch deep tart pan) with pastry crust. Blind-bake the crust by lining it with parchment paper, then fill with dried beans or rice*. Bake for 15 minutes, lift out the paper and beans (or rice), and bake for another 5-8 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Spread the onions over the bottom of baked tart crust, then top with roasted vegtables. Scatter with half the thyme and dot with small chunks of both cheeses, then the tomato halves, cut-side up. Whisk the eggs and cream with a half teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, and pour into the tart; the tomatoes and cheese should remain exposed. Scatter the remaining thyme on top. Bake for 35–45 minutes, until the filling sets and turns golden. Rest for at least 10 minutes, then remove the tart from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.