October 5, 2012
Ever since I made this Zucchini, Tomato and Pesto Tart, I’ve become obsessed with puff pastry. Weird considering that I used to have an aversion to the stuff.
If it hadn’t been for Alice Currah’s Savory Sweet Life cookbook, I’m not sure that I would have ever tried working with frozen puff pastry again. It never did anything for me and now, thanks to Alice’s savory tart, I know why. I’d always used puff pastry for sweet recipes. I’d end up feeling like I’d rather have cake or at least something like cake, which puff pastry is not. Topping puff pastry with savory ingredients, though, opened a whole new world. A world that I’m happy to visit. Often.
I’ve made the Zucchini, Tomato and Pesto Tart a few times and have even churned out a couple of Corn and Mushroom Tarts. Both delicious each and every time. Now I’m bringing easy puff pastry tarts into fall with this Beet and Feta Tart.
As with all puff pastry tarts, this simple business. Thaw dough, prep dough and top dough to end up with something like this:
Then just pop in the oven.
You need roasted beets for this recipe, which is easy (ridiculously easy) but requires some time. I suggest that you roast them ahead of time and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make the tart; they’ll keep for about 5 days. If you roast the beets in advance, don’t forget to save the greens. If you want to make this tart super easy the day of, wash the greens in advance, too. Pat or air dry them, stick them in a storage bag and keep in the fridge along with the cooked beets.
Also, if, like me, you’re a label reader, you’ll notice that some puff pastry contain processed ingredients and maybe even high fructose corn syrup. If you can, splurge to get puff pasty at your local natural foods store. It’s worth it and, all in, this is a very inexpensive dish.
Serve this as along with simply grilled chicken, soup and/or a salad for a great seasonal dinner. And if you get any kid resistance, try describing this as a beet “pizza.” It totally worked!
Beet and Feta Tart
(can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)*
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or side
12 medium or 8 large beets
1 packed cup chopped beet greens
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more to finish
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 1/2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium-sized fennel, trimmed and cut into very thin slices
1/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh thyme, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the greens off of the beets. Reserve the greens and trim the beets. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil. Place all of the wrapped beets on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender all the way through, about 40 minutes (though time will very depending on the size of your beets). Remove beets from oven and set aside to cool completely. If making the tart immediately, leave the oven heat on 375.
2. While the beets are roasting, prep the beet greens: holding the stem with one hand, run the fingers of your other hand down the step to remove the tender leafy part from the tough stem. Wash greens and chop. Set aside 1 packed cup and reserve any remaining for another recipe.
3. In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add greens and continue cooking until wilted, about 2 minutes. Set aside until slightly cooled.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and, on to it, unroll the the puff pastry dough. Over lap the two pieces—one full sized, the other half sized—pressing them together at the seams. Make a rim by folding the edges of the pastry dough in by ½ inch and pressing down gently. Using a fork, poke holes all over the pastry.
5. Stir creme fraiche or sour cream into cooled greens and season with salt and pepper to taste. Unwrap cooled beets and, using your hands or a paring knife, peel the skin off and trim any hard bits. Slice beets into 1/4″ slices.
6. Top prepared dough with an even layer of greens. Layer thin slices of fennel on top. Nestle beets on top of the fennel, pressing them gently into the dough. Cover the entire area inside the rim with beets. Scatter crumbled feta around the top of the tart and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes.
7. Squeeze juice of 1/2 a lemon and drizzle olive oil over the finished tart. Sprinkle with more salt to taste and fresh thyme. Serve warm.
*Note: Reserve some of the plain roasted beets and puree with (pasteurized only) feta cheese or plain yogurt for babies as young as 6 months old. Children 8- to 10-months-old safely managing finger foods can share this tart as prepared, just cut into age appropriate bite sizes and consider skipping the final sprinkling of salt.