Goodness gracious, these past few weeks have been busy. If you’ll allow me, I’d also like to blame the farmers market (and the weather, I suppose, by extention) for my temporary absence from the airwaves: the overall lack of new and snazzy green things has left me a bit writer’s blocked.
But here we are! With a tart! It’s mighty tasty. It makes great brunch, lunch, or dinner. (Add a salad, and perhaps some roasted taters, and you’re in business.) It works for right now, with whatever vegetation you can scrounge at the market, but it will also work later, when peas and asparagus finally do make an appearance. It will continue to work once summer produce–tomatoes!–arrive.
This tart is like a quiche, but with half the guilt, half the commitment: it’s fairy thin, so you won’t feel heavy or fatigued after enjoying it. You are very welcome to take the tart base, and the dairy, and then invent your own tart from there. Vegetables, herbs, and cheese: go crazy! Get inventing.
A note on inspiration: The base of this recipe comes from Bon Appetit. I too would like to make the recipe as originally written, with skinny-tender stalks of asparagus, but the farmers market is still all parsnips and turnips. The hot new item last week was a slender bundle of peach blossoms. I was so excited until I went to pay: $8 a piece!
A note on the crust: You want to keep the dough (and all the ingredients that go into the dough) as cold as possible, for as long as possible. The freezer is your friend. This coldness will give you a lovely, flakey crust.
A note on the inconsistent picture style: I just got new photo editing software, and I am still playing around with it, hence the stylistic difference between the process shots and the final shots. If you noticed no difference between the two, let’s just pretend I didn’t even write this disclaimer..
Makes 1, 13-inch tart, or 6-8 individual ones
- 1.5 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1.5 sticks (170 grams), plus 1 tablespoon, chilled unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
- 3 leeks
- 9 spring onions or scallions
- 2/3 cup minced chives
- 6 ounces soft goat cheese
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup finely grated aged gruyère
- freshly ground black pepper
Make the Dough
1. Add the flour and the salt to the bowl of a food processor. (The thyme too, if you’re using it.) Cut 1.5 sticks of the butter into slices, and add that too–the butter should be cold, frozen even–keeping everything as cold as possible will yield a flaky crust. Turn the machine on low, and slowly add the ice water, just until the dough comes together.
2. Form the dough into a disk. Scatter a fine dusting of flour onto some plastic wrap, and wrap up the dough. Move it to the coldest part of the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (You can also do this the night before.)
3. Roll out the dough; you want it about 1/4-inch thick. I like to roll my dough between two, floured sheets of plastic wrap; I find it’s easy, and it minimizes mess. Now ease the dough into a 13-inch tart pan. Move the pan to the freezer for about 20 minutes.
4. Heat oven to 375F. Blind bake the tart for 20 minutes (I use dried beans). With a fork, poke holes into the base of the tart (this will help prevent bubbles in the dough), and move the tart back into the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
Make the Filling:
1. Quarter the leeks, slice up the white and light green bits, and wash well. Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium heat, until it is bubbling gently. Add the sliced leeks, and saute until they are wilty, about 7 minutes. Set the leeks aside.
2. Prep the spring onions: cut away and discard the whiskery bottoms. Wash the stalks well, and then slice.
3. Wash your chives. I use kitchen shears to mince them. Don’t worry about making them perfectly uniform.
4. Add the: goat cheese, lemon zest, crème fraîche, heavy cream, and tarragon to a large mixing bowl. Use a whisk to blend everything together. Add the eggs, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and mix to incorporate. Lastly, whisk in the minced chives.
5. Now put the tart together: scatter the leeks, the spring onions, and the aged gruyère across the bottom of the tart. Pour in the cream mixture. Grate some black pepper across the top. Move the tart to the oven, and cook for 22 more minutes, until the cream mixture is just set. Let the tart cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.