Ratatouille Tart and Crazy Days of Summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer”
How long has it been since summer was carefree. Forever it seems. Those long sunny days of heading to the beach, camping in the mountains or just stepping out to the garden. A quiet meditation just watering the growing bounty of our vegetable patch. By August the garden was bursting and heavily laden requiring a daily harvest before the sun hit it’s pinnacle. The taste of sunshine in each bite of lemon cucumber, tomato or green bean. I still have a few plants in raised beds, nothing like Dad’s huge spread but enough to give me fresh herbs, tomatoes and such. Simple pleasures. Farmer’s markets provide local produce to satisfy the void and hassle of growing it all on your own.
When the zucchini, tomatoes and peppers come on nothing tastes better than a ratatouille. I tested a recipe from Kelsey Nixon, Cooking Channel that was a nice change up to the traditional vegetable stew. A puff pastry tart enhanced with a base layer of caramelized onion and tomato jam. The jam was a bit worky, but well worth the effort — and I got to play with my new De Buyer mandoline. Slicing heaven!
I made the jam on a Sunday afternoon when I had plenty of time to caramelized the onions and let the mixture thicken nicely. Overall I noticed that the timing indicated in the recipe was off by half and I reduced the salt to one teaspoon. Next time I’ll also peel the fresh Roma tomatoes before adding to the pot. The remnants of the peels just doesn’t work for me. Patience is required when you want your onions to have that sweetened bit of dark caramelization that just takes time. I couldn’t wait to do a taste test, so a quick bruchetta with goat cheese and a sprinkle of chives and lemon basil was enough to test this recipe was a winner. Reminiscent of a chunky barbecue sauce with a brown sugar molasses tomato base and added punch of chipotle powder. The creamy goat cheese offered a nice counterpoint. The rich mahogany color is just plain ole pretty to look at.
On Monday, while I defrosted my sheet of puff pastry, my mandoline sliced up the eggplant and squashes into beautiful perfect 1/4″ width slices. Not something easily done with my food processor, that’s for sure.
The finale of this adventure — Ratatouille Tart with Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam was delectable. Tender not soggy vegetables, layers of fresh sunshine flavors with the underlying sweet smokey jam on a flaky, buttery pastry. My darling dear said this easily satisfies our two to three servings of vegetables a day all in one meal and a welcome addition to our standard rotation.
Adapted from Original Recipe
Ratatouille Tart with Caramelized Onion-Tomato Jam by Kelsey Nixon
This made one 12″ x 10″ tart with leftover jam.
Serves 4-6 (I can’t see serving 6-8 for dinner with just this… but that could just me)
CARAMELIZED ONION-TOMATO JAM:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced (I used 3 Walla Walla onions)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (reduced to 1 teaspoon)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and roughly chopped (about 2 1/2 pounds) (I will peel next time)
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- Flour, for dusting
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup Caramelized Onion-Tomato Jam
- 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
- 1 yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
- 1 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
- 5 thin slices yellow onion
- 1 to 2 roasted red peppers, julienned (I used fresh peppers, yellow and red)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, divided (I used a combination of fresh basil, chives, and oregano)
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Stir in the garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook an additional 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Stirring consistently, cook until the tomatoes breakdown and the jam becomes thick, about 20 minutes. (The jam thickness was still too runny for my tastes at this point so I cooked another 20 minutes until a teaspoon cooled on a plate does not run at all.)
Yield: approx 3 cups
Spread the Caramelized Onion-Tomato Jam evenly over the pastry, leaving a small border around the edge of the pastry. Layer the tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini in overlapping rows, or in whatever pattern you like. Sprinkle the roasted red peppers around the tart. Drizzle the assembled tart with a little olive oil, making sure to brush a little on the edges, season with salt and pepper and top with half of the fresh (herb mixture) plus oregano.
Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes. (It took another 20 minutes for the pastry to be brown and the vegetables softened sufficiently) I also drizzled a bit more olive oil half way through the cooking process so the squash and eggplant wouldn’t dry out. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the goat cheese and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons (herb mixture) plus oregano before serving.
Did you know this 2012 celebrate’s Julia Child’s 100th Birthday. Follow the celebration on Facebook and check out the Recipe of the Week! (Hint: can you say ratatouille?)