Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tart with Leeks and Zucchini-Crostata ai Porri e Zucchine

A very cold weather front has hit the Bay Area, the temperature is ridiculously cold, but Spring is here nonetheless. My vegetable garden is in its third year and I am still learning what works and what doesn't. Last fall I planted loads of garlic since it grew really well before, and for the first time I tried leeks which proved to be a good crop too. The garlic bulbs haven't formed the little segments yet, so they need more time in the soil but he leeks are now big enough to justify harvesting them and that is what I did this morning. A tart that could be brought to a summer pic-nic is the perfect ending for these beauties.

Italians don't have the same love affair French have with leeks, so this vegetable doesn't appear too often on the menus. Maybe it is on the account on how we call them, Porri, which doesn't sound too appealing. This tart came to being when I was trying to use some leeks I had bought before knowing what to do with them. I decided to use them in a tart and since my fridge always has zucchini waiting to be used for one thing or another, the zucchini-leek combo was born. I then spiced the filling up with some chili flakes, added cream, eggs, some cheese and voila', a new dish was born. I have to admit the tart sounds/is very French indeed, but Italians will approve I am sure, especially since I used Parmigiano Reggiano.

This is another crowd pleaser I like to bring to parties or make for my catering clients. The tart dough is a typical Pate Brisée, with lots of butter and so delicious. The recipe is adapted from volume I of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the venerable Julia Child.

Pate Brisée

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon sugar
6 ounces butter cut in small cubes
1/2 cup ice cold water.

I like to make this dough in a food processor as it is very quick. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse on and off until the butter is the size of peas. Add the cold water with the machine running, then pulse on and off until the dough start to come together. Small pieces of butter should still be visible. Empty the dough on a floured counter and bring it together, do not over mix it. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. The dough can be frozen for few weeks. Roll the dough to a 1/8 thickness, line a tart shell and freeze.

Tart Filling

2 medium leeks
2 medium zucchini
chili flakes (to your taste)
parsley, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Slice and wash the leeks in cold water (click here to see a detailed post on how to prepare leeks). Heat the EVOO in a large pan, add the leeks and cook until translucent (like you would with onions). Add the zucchini and cook on medium heat until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the chili flakes and the parsley, and let cool. Mix the heavy cream with the eggs, add the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Mix the cream mixture with the cooled vegetables and pour onto prepared tart shell. Bake at 375F until the filling is set and the crust is nicely browned. The above amounts will work for a 10", or a 8"x11" tart.

Buon Appetito!


Sippity Sup said...

You went French here, but your comment about my Glasses from Venice blew me away! GREG

Anonymous said...

I have both leeks and zucchini. Thanks so much. Will make a nice lunch this week!


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