Wondering what to do with a handful of farmer's market vegetables still hanging out in the refrigerator? An inspired tart livens up just about any meal. Late winter in New England means storage crops. Beets are in abundance and the color and varieties available radiate the intensity and sweetness of stored up summer sunshine. These garden jewels were eaten by Greeks and Romans thousands of years ago to please human's innate sweet tooth, but also for medicinal and nutritional benefits. Experiencing a renaissance, beets have shed their trashy tin canned slimy texture for a more glamorous red carpet root vegetable worthy freshly boiled or roasted al dente preparation. The skinny slices used to top this savory tart should be the perfect nibble for beet skeptics. Goat cheese and beets make a beautiful friendship.
Ingredients for the Pastry3 cups flour 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup (8 ounces) European butter, diced into 1/4" cubes & chilled 1/3 cup ice water
For the Filling12 ounces mild goat cheese 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta 3/4 cup (6 ounces) European butter, room temperature 3 egg yolks 1/3 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 6 walnut sized beets, skins removed, & sliced as thinly as possible by hand, or on a mandoline 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Directions for the Pastry
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and whir to combine. Sprinkle the chilled butter evenly over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- With the machine running on low, slowly add the water and process only until the dough begins to form a ball. Remove the dough and place it in the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Fold the sides of plastic wrap up around the ball and gently press down to form a thick rectangle. Check to see that all of the dough is covered and inside the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to fit the tart pan of choice (there is enough dough for one 9" W x 13" L rectangular tart pan, one 12" D x 1" H round tart pan, or two 13" L x 4" W rectangular tart pans). Transfer the dough to the tart pan(s) and trim and crimp the edges. Place the tarts in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the tart from the freezer and line the dough with foil and top with dried beans or pie weights. Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Let cool.
- Reduce the oven to 375 degrees F.
For the Filling
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the goat cheese, ricotta, and butter. Process until smooth.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time and process until incorporated. Add the flour, herbs, and pepper.
- Toss the beets with olive oil and the champagne vinegar.
- Pour the filling into the blind baked tart crust. Place the beets on top of the filling in a slightly overlapping pattern.
- Place the tart in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the beets are cooked. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Finish with sea salt flakes and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.
It is easier to make patterns with smaller sized beets. Red, golden, and the candy striped Chiogga beets are all gorgeous. Try cutting each beet slice in half (see picture below) and arranging on the diagonal. Bûcheron, a goat's milk cheese from France's Loire valley, is a rich alternative to mild goat cheese--substitute, rind and all, for a tangier, lightly lemon tasting filling.