Gail came to town. Perfect excuse for M and her to head on over to Kitchen Arts and Letters, where he never leaves empty-handed. According to its website, it is the largest store of its type in the U.S. and possibly the world, with over 13,000 cookbook titles — domestic, imported, contemporary and out of print. M is like a kid in a candy store when he visits.
This time he came home with the most incredible vegetarian cookbook, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The book is a collection of beautifully photographed vegetarian recipes, many of which appeared in different forms in The Guardian’s ‘New Vegetarian’ column in its weekend magazine.
Not readily available in the United States, M simply had to have it. And who cares if we don’t know how many grams there are in a cup? That’s what the internet is for, right?
The first thing that we made from this book was a wonderful vegetable tart, aptly named “A Very Full Tart.” It is described as a fantastic Mediterranean feast, full to the brim with roasted vegetables.
And what a feast it is. Fresh farm market vegetables combine with a creamy ricotta and feta spiked sauce and a flaky pastry crust to create a delicious savory dish that makes an excellent side to a piece of grilled fish. The tart could also be (and was) served with a light salad and called dinner.
A Very Full Tart
from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
- 1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper
- about 100 ml olive oil
- 1 aubergine, cut into 4cm dice
- salt and black pepper
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
- 1 small courgette, cut into 3cm dice
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 300 g shortcrust pastry
- 8 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 120 g each ricotta and feta
- 7 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 200 ml double cream
- Heat the oven to 230 °C.
- Cut around the pepper stalks, then lift out and discard, along with all the seeds.
- Put the peppers in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and put on the top shelf of the oven.
- Mix the aubergine with four tablespoons of oil and season.
- Tip into a big baking tin and place on the shelf below the peppers.
- After 12 minutes, add the sweet potato, stir and roast for 12 minutes more.
- Now add the courgette, stir and roast for a further 10–12 minutes.
- By now, the peppers should be brown and the vegetables cooked.
- Remove everything from the oven and turn the heat to 160 °C.
- Cover the peppers with foil and leave to cool; once cool, peel and tear into strips.
- Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
- Sauté the onions with the bay leaves and some salt for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown, soft and sweet.
- Discard the bay and set aside.
- Grease a 22 cm loose-bottomed tart tin.
- Roll the pastry to a 3 mm-thick circle large enough to line the tin with some overhang.
- Press it into the edges.
- Line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans.
- Bake blind for 30 minutes, lift out the paper and beans, and bake for 10–15 minutes more, until golden brown.
- Remove and allow to cool a little.
- Spread the onions over the bottom, then top with roasted veg.
- Scatter over half the thyme, dot first with small chunks of both cheeses and then the tomato halves, cut-side up.
- Whisk the eggs and cream with some salt and pepper, and pour into the tart; the tomatoes and cheese should remain exposed.
- Scatter the remaining thyme on top.
- Bake for 35–45 minutes, until the filling sets and turns golden.
- Rest for at least 10 minutes, then trim off the excess pastry, remove the tart from its tin and serve.