Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wonderfully Caramelized Vegetable Tart

CaramelizedVegieTart01ByMeetaAlbrecht

Certainly many of you will know that I am a fanatic list maker. It helps me stay organized in my busy routine. However, I do break free from the list making, actually you might be surprised to hear, that I do this on a regular basis. This generally happens when I visit my Farmer's Market. My list somehow is forgotten and so is everything on it. I am driven by the colors, aromas and the variety of fruit and vegetables. In a trance I walk around each stall, picking at the fruit or vegetables, smelling it's ripeness and sometimes tasting samples and testing the juiciness, tanginess and crunchiness.

I imagine all the things I could make with the fresh raspberries I am holding in my hand or if I buy double the amount of fresh baby spinach I could make a salad and a pasta. So, everything wanders into my big blue Ikea bag. Hey, it's the biggest carry bag I can find and perfect for shopping at the Farmer's Market. As a matter of fact it's become my trademark at the Farmer's Market.

Brimming to the rim, I return home, my bag filled with gorgeous, fresh, organic produce. I feel satisfied with myself as I look at all the items laid out on my counter top. My mind is fuming with all the ideas of what to make for dinner. I just cannot decide on anything particular - fennel, zucchini, asparagus? What should it be? The thing is, as most of the produce is organic they need to be used up fast. Well if I was particularly organized that week I probably would have fresh puff pastry in my refrigerator .... the rest is easy.

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To make sure all the flavors of each vegetable comes out to it's max, I gently and slowly caramelize them on a low heat. As the juices come together to produce a wonderful bouquet of aromas, I just know this is going to be worth every bite.

In honor of the UK national vegetarian week, which is from 21st to 27th May, Abby of Eat the Right Stuff is celebrating with a one off event - Vegetables Beautiful Vegetables. I am dedicating this to all my favorite farmers at the Weimar Farmer's Market, who provide me with the most wonderful selection of produce all year round.



Reminder!


You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!







Ingredients

1 zucchini - sliced
1 fennel bulb - sliced
bunch of grape tomatoes - cut into quarters
1 large red bell pepper - cut in half
1 large red onion
small bunch of thyme - finely chopped
handful of pine nuts - roasted
200g puff pastry
olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
120g goat cheese
salt and pepper




CaramelizedVegieTart04ByMeetaAlbrecht


Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Lightly grease a baking tray with some olive oil and place the pepper halves on the tray. Roast for approx. 20 minutes or until the skins char and bubbles build up underneath the skin. Take out of the oven and cover with a tea towel to allow them to sweat for a few minutes. Once slightly cooled, peel the skin and slice the peppers.

In a greased tart form or another baking tray spread the puff pastry out. Prick the base of the puff pastry several times. Line with baking paper, place some dried beans, chickpeas or pie weights and blind bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown.




In a large pan, heat some olive oil. Add all of the vegetables and allow them to be coated in the oil. On a low heat sauté them gently until all the water has evaporated and browning begins. Add the honey and lower the heat. Carry on sauteing them gently until the honey and the vegetables have caramelized and released all of their flavors. Make sure you stir frequently so that the vegetables to not stick to the bottom of the pan. This normally takes 15 to 20 minutes. Add thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the wonderfully aromatic vegetables onto the warm puff pasty, sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts and break off bits from the goat cheese and place on the vegetables. Turn on the grill function of your oven and bake until the cheese just starts to brown and the vegetables have warmed through.

Tips & Tricks

  • When caramelizing vegetables, what's happening is the heat is literally dehydrating the water in the vegetables. When enough water has evaporated from the vegetables the temperature of the sugars within them rises. Once they are heated past a certain temperature, they start to brown, which is a result of the sugar breaking down and recombining into more than 100 different ingredients. It is this variety that gives caramelized vegetables their complexity of flavor.
  • You can caramelize any amount of vegetables this way. Make sure that once their water has evaporated, the pan is not too crowded, and don't be stingy on the oil.
  • A nonstick, heavy and sturdy pan makes the process much easier, because the vegetables in contact with the cooking surface will tend to stick as their sugars are heated, and what gets stuck to the pan can burn.
  • Most sturdy vegetables with high sugar content can be caramelized in this manner. Vegetables that don't caramelize are those that contain too much water, like celery.
  • Do not use whole butter to caramelize vegetables, because the dairy solids in butter tend to burn. Clarified butter will work fine.




CaramelizedVegieTart03ByMeetaAlbrecht


Verdict

Vegetables beautiful vegetables! This is an exceptional way to enjoy a multitude of vegetables in one dish. By caramelizing them gently and releasing their sugars the incredible palate of flavors harmonize to create a smooth and rich taste. We savored each bite with relish. The combination of the piquant cheese, crunchy nuts and flaky pastry added a wonderful distinct finesse.

Daily Tiffin latest: This week I introduce my fantastic baker to our readers in Meet My Baker.


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24 comments :

  1. You know I find the exact opposite true about fresh, local vegetables. Mine seem to last forever since I get them usually the day they were picked . I routinely have lettuce last for close to two weeks, carrots that seem to last forever, and all the fruits seem to have double their normal shelf life.

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  2. Jef - I read mixed stories about this, however even the farmer's who sell their organic produce at the market tell me that organic food often has a shorter shelf life than non-organic food, because it doesn’t contain all the nasty chemical preservatives that often keeps non-organic food artificially fresh for longer.
    Most of these are also picked the same day.

    Lettuce that lasts for 2 weeks WOW! Now that really is incredible. My lettuce does not last that long - I have not tried to be honest - as I normally buy fresh produce either on the day I need it or for the next day and I visit my organic/Farmer's Market 3-4 times a week to make sure I am getting the freshest of the produce.

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  3. Beautiful tart! I never ever bring a shopping list to the farmers' market. I buy whatever they have, and figure out what to do with it when I get home. If I start with a list, I tend to overlook the hidden treasures. Now, going to the grocery store is another matter -- there I always take a list with me!

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  4. Meeta,

    I've had vegetable tarts on the brain lately mainly because I'm anxiously awaiting our growing season beginning. We're a bit behind here because of the colder climate.

    Your tart is just GORGEOUS!

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  5. wow!!!!really nice ....i never have a list carrying when i go out ...Think must start having one ...

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  6. Meeta,

    Goat cheese can make any tart yummo. Love your tart, My favorite at our local hangout is goat cheese with olives and peppers ,Looks Delish !!

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  7. Gorgeous looking tart you have here Meeta. Just the word caramelized is enough for me. BTW. Love your new layout.

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  8. Never took a list to the Farmer's Market.
    Now if I was organized, I'd have puff pastry in my fridge and put my roasted tomatoes as a topper. Instead, I'd best be getting on with this challenge.

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  9. Meeta,

    I am the same way at the market...it's useless to take a list because it always happens that if I'm looking for a specific thing, I won't find it anyway! I just go and buy whatever catches my eye! Cooking is much more fun when it's driven by the ingredients :-) Your tart sounds absolutely wonderful!

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  10. Will have to try this one out, given that I have loved what I have tried out from your recipes so far!

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  11. Beautiful photo. Without the pastry this recipe makes a tasty warm vegetable salad. Gr8 with EVOO or balsamic vinaigrette.

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  12. What's not to love about this tart? I particularly love the flavors of fennel and thyme. It must have been wonderfully savory.

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  13. ahhh....that looks so delicious! I'm going to try it this weekend...

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  14. Gorgeous vegetable tart, Meeta! I absolutely love slow roasting vegetables like that... I agree with Ivonne, it's hard waiting for veggie season to be up and going with this crazy weather we've been having! Have an extra slice for me!

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  15. Beautiful veggie tart, Meeta. You know I've never had goat cheese...

    Yeah, lists are no good at farmers' markets, no good I tell you :)

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  16. gorgeous tart meeta and as you say, vegetables, beautiful vegetables!

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  17. Just about all of my veggies are CSA veggies. I get them once a week so I usually get a stockpile and have to figure out what to do with them.

    I get all sorts of crazy shelf life from the things I get. I have beets from last month that look better than store bought ones and can usually keep kale/chard/arugula for two weeks or longer.

    I'm not trying to stockpile this stuff, I just don't always get around to using up everything each week, and then things go south :)

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  18. As I normally visit the Farmer's market a few times in the week I do like to have a list as a guideline of what I would require for the meals I plan. But as I see many of you have the same issue - the list goes under.

    Lydia - True about overlooking the hidden treasures. Because sometimes when I am in a hurry, I will admit that it is a dash and go shopping action for me. That's probably when I miss the exciting things on offer.

    Ivonne, well allow me to cook for you and serve you ideas for when your summer season starts.

    Deepa, it does come in handy when you have a list.

    Sreelu - True Goat cheese is great. Your idea sounds great too

    Rose - Thanks. Caramelizing is just great and I love all the flavors you get out of it.

    Tann - that was the only reason I happened to be organized - because I finished my challenge already and had plenty of leftovers LOL! SSHHH! Good luck with yours!

    Nicole, i agree with you totally. When you have to make something with the ingredients you have it is more fun, imaginative, creative and normally tastes better!!

    Neela - hey thanks for that. I am glad you like what I am serving. THAT really puts a smile on my face.

    Suganya - yes you can have it without the pastry too - but them I caramelize the vegies in the oven instead. The pastry adds a bit of decadence to it!

    Susan - I love you - do you know that. You can read my mind so perfectly. Exactly what I was thinking when I was making this. Fennel and thyme a very cool combination.

    Dee - please let me know what you thought of it.

    Gilly - thanks. I look forward to your dishes when things get warmer your way. Actually, it's all gone but the next time I make this I will have one in your honor!!

    Cynthia - Goat cheese has a wonderful savory taste and really brings out the best when added to salads and vegies.

    Abby - glad you liked it!

    Jef - I used to get something similar to CSA boxes here in Germany - it's called "Biokiste" however, I was noticing that I was unable to use up everything that was in the box within the week. So, when the same people opened a huge organic store in the city I discontinued the box and now shop regularly at the store. It gives me more flexibility and I am not stock piling all the food. It was too stressy - trying to use up everything or freezing parts of the box.
    But I enjoyed peaking into your box ;-) I wish you luck with the competition. The fruit makes it a winner!

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  19. Such a gorgeous looking tart there Meeta. I also end up using the veggies from the Farmers Market in a week... greens have to be used first!

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  20. A great tart and one that you can change depending on the season/availability! The pictures are beautiful (as always), Meeta!

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  21. This looks delicious Meeta! I love roasted vegetables, my favourite topping for pizzas. Your way of a tart seems wonderfully rustic, a must try for my summer-sit-out-in-the-balcony kinda dinner. Will let you knwo how it goes! :)

    Have a great weekend!

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  22. What a wonderful way to showcase the summer bounty of your farmer's market. Unfortunately, Indian summers are high on watery gourds...but still there are peppers, potatoes, and pumpkin, and zuchini too, on a lucky day!

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  23. Meeta
    I love your enthusiasm and obvious joy in cooking fresh, really good food. I don't understand how anyone could hate vegetables when there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy them. Like you, I love a good farmer's market where I go on a free day with no list, about 10 string bags and/or a big wheeled shopping cart, and plenty of cash ! I am eagerly awaiting the Spring, since we've had a very tough Winter here in the Northeast, and you can bet that I'll be seeking out those tender Spring veggies and making one of your recipes!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta