Flying in the face of well-intentioned advice to be fully present and in the moment, I confess that I spent all summer thinking up meals for our fall dinners. This was made even worse a couple months ago, when I was cleaning out a junk drawer and stumbled upon a meal plan from last fall, boasting of chilis and pot pies and baked pasta. I have never experienced such severe nostalgia in my life. This year, all those dishes are on my mental list to make, but I have also added a few new recipes as well. One of these is this fall vegetable tart. Buttery pie crust filled with roasted and sautéed vegetables and topped with a cheesy and savory egg custard? It is no wonder I spent all of summer dreaming of dishes like this one.
Starting from the bottom, let’s talk about pie crust. I grew up in a loving household that was held hostage by a fear of making pie dough. This was baffling to me, because anytime I attempted to make it, it seemed to turn out fine. I don’t possess any superpowers, so I knew that an easy and basic pie dough was completely attainable, as long as you remembered a few key points. My favorite trick is freezing and grating the butter directly into the flour mixture, rather than trying to incorporate it with your hands or with a pastry cutter. The less you mess with the butter, the colder it will stay and the flakier your pie crust will be. The grater gets the butter into perfectly tiny pieces that get coated in the flour instantly and painlessly. And once the pie crust is completely mixed, I fly in the face of old wive’s tales and go ahead and roll out my dough right away, rather than chilling it for a bit. Since we froze the butter and then grated it, it still is fairly cold at this stage and since the dough is soft and smooth, it can be rolled out in a flash and then popped in the refrigerator to chill before baking. Except, my third tip involves freezing the dough instead of refrigerating it, so forget what I just said. In this recipe, we are blind-baking the crust before topping it with our roasted vegetables and other delicious ingredients. I don’t own pie weights and don’t plan on investing in any, so instead, I freeze my pie dough, that’s already been rolled out and placed in a tart pan, for 30 minutes and then bake it while it is still frozen. Baking a frozen dough will keep it both from puffing up and shrinking on the sides. It’s a win-win. Also, that picture up on top, where you can see that I pricked holes all over my pie crust? Don’t do that. I lost a little bit of my filling by doing that, so let my spare you the disappointment and please learn from my mistake.
And speaking of filling! The vegetables I used are just some of my favorite fall veggies. I am obsessed with sautéed onions and mushrooms and roasted sweet potatoes. And I guess kale is okay. But I want you guys to know that you can really do any combination of veggies that you would like. Butternut squash would be so good in this and any sort of bitter green would be welcome, too. Leftovers rarely exist in our house because I usually end up eating them while cleaning the kitchen after dinner, but I imagine that if you have an assortment of roasted vegetables leftover from a previous meal, that this would be an excellent way to reuse them. I actually made a spring vegetable tart like this for Easter this year and it was really good with roasted eggplant and cherry tomatoes. But, it’s fall! So use whatever seasonal vegetable you like. I just thought of this, but if you don’t like onions, I bet spaghetti squash would be a good substitute texture-wise.
So we’ve covered the crust and the veggies, and now the last part of this tart is the creamy and cheesy part. Since we are getting to know each other, I’ll let you in on what some may be considered a serious character flaw. I don’t really like cheese. I like how it melts, but a super strong cheese? I just can’t. So for the cheeses here, I chose mild ricotta and parmesan cheese. But I did make this tart once with goat cheese instead of parmesan and it would have been really good if I liked goat cheese. All that to say, just like the vegetables, the cheeses are customizable too. I think it’s good when recipes aren’t black and white; I hope you guys agree. Since you will be the ones eating it, it really should be something that you’ll really like. The only place where you can’t get crazy with substitutions is the milk and eggs mixture. These ingredients help bind the tart and keep it moist, making it almost like a quiche, but not quite.
This tart was a big hit in our house, and was perfect as dinner, served with a simple arugula salad. Anytime the main dish is a bit rich, I think a super simple salad is the perfect side. I love arugula paired with a lemon dressing, made with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. And any leftover tart makes a good breakfast (swap out the arugula salad for bacon, obviously), or eaten cold straight from the fridge whenever a craving strikes.
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick (8 T) butter, frozen for 30 mins
- 3-6 T cold water
- 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 8 oz portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/2 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced in 1/4" rounds
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 roasted bell pepper, cut into strips
- Salt and pepper
- Stir together the flour and salt. Using a box grater, grate the butter directly into the flour. Toss to coat the butter with flour.
- Starting with 2 tablespoons of cold water, add enough water to bring the dough together. Sometimes this takes 3 tablespoons, and sometimes it takes 6. Add it slowly and stop before the dough gets too sticky.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a circle large enough for your tart pan. Transfer the dough into the tart pan and press agains the sides and bottom, cutting off the excess. (Save that for mini pies!)
- **Place the tart pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325. Bake the pie crust for 20-30 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before filling.
- Preheat oven to 450
- Toss the sweet potato rounds with 1 Tbs of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, flip, and then roast for 5-10 more minutes.
- Saute the onions in 1 Tbs oil, over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a couple more minutes, until the kale is wilted. Remove from the heat.
- Stir together the ricotta and parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, to catch any spillage.
- Place the onion/mushroom/kale mixture on the bottom of the baked pie crust. Place the sweet potato rounds in an even layer on top. Using a tablespoon spoon, scoop the ricotta and parmesan cheese over the veggies. You can smooth the cheese or leave it dotted. Place the strips of roasted peppers over the surface. Pour the milk and eggs over.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, until it is set and just lightly browned on top. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing tart from the pan and slicing and eating, but this is equally good at room temperature or chilled.
- *Note: You can of course use a frozen pie crust or a pre-made crust.
- **Note: I baked this in a 9" tart pan, but you can also bake this in a pie pan.
- ***These veggies are just some of my favorites, but you can swap out any that you don't like and substitute what you do like. Butternut squash, spaghetti squash, other bitter greens, etc would all work well here.