I crave interesting flavor. I think I always have because I was the kid that didn’t buy lunch at school and came with a bag packed with such exotic things as tabbouleh and who loved lobster before she could walk. (Actually, that last one may be because I am a Mainer, but still.) There are days when I just need something that is complex but not fussy, something that you taste and know that you are alive. Those little bursts of flavor, of living.
Herbs do that for me. Amazing little leaves with such a wide variety of character. And I use them everywhere I can. In the herbed gnudi with parsley, dill, and chives below, in pureed soups of chervil, or tarragon, basil, and mint mixed into a quinoa, tomato, and feta salad. Mixing them in unexpected combinations makes the possibilities endless and I find that leafy herbs play nicely together and woody herbs, likewise, play nicely together. Of course, you wan always taste them before adding.
One of my go-to recipes for summer is a wonderful tart of tomatoes and goat cheese in a flaky pastry. It’s always refreshing and never disappoints. When the weather went into an end of summer hot streak, I pulled the fresh summer vegetables we had from the fridge and roasted them simply. I knew they’d be a perfect variation on that summer favorite. But I wanted it to stand out even more and served it with a lightly dressed salad of fresh herbs on top. It was perfect. Everyone can help themselves to how ever much of the salad they like, if they are adventurous and want a lot like me, or if they want a little less like R. This is exuberant summer in a tart.
Roasted Vegetable and Chevre Tart with Herb Salad
For the Pastry:
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary or chives
8 tbsp. cold butter, cut into smaller pieces
4-5 tbsp. ice water
- Place the butter, flour, salt, and minced herb in a bowl and cut the ingredients together with a pastry cutter or with the tips of your fingers. Work until just combined and add the ice water one tbsp at a time, mixing gently with a fork, until the mixture comes together and doesn’t crumble when you pinch a piece together between thumb and index finger. Gather gently into a ball and flatten into a disk. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
For the Filling:
1 small eggplant, washed and sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
1 small zucchini, washed and sliced into 14/” thick slices
1 red bell pepper, washed, seeded, and sliced into 6 pieces lengthwise
2 small heirloom tomatoes, washed and sliced in half lengthwise
3 tbsp. olive oil
200 g / 7 oz. fresh soft goat cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Place the vegetables , tomatoes cut side up, on a roasting pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, using more if necessary but don’t drench the eggplant, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven until them are golden and soft, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Turn the oven heat down to 375°F/190°C. Remove pastry from the fridge and set onto a well floured work surface. With a rolling pin, roll pastry into a circle about 1/4″ thick. Gently fold the dough in half and lay over half of a 9″ removable bottom tart pan. Unfold the dough to cover the pan, fit the dough down into the pan, and trim off any excess around the edges. Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork.
- Crumble the goat cheese into the tart crust, making sure to distribute it evenly across the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the tart shell in the oven until golden, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Arrange the roasted vegetables over the top of the tart shell.
For the Herb Salad:
1 1/2 c. mixed fresh herbs, such as chervil, dill, and chives, washed
1 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Prepare the herbs but chopping to large pieces, the size of baby lettuce leaves. Place them in a bowl and lightly dress with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, tossing gently with you fingertips to coat the herbs.
- Pile the salad in the center of the roasted vegetable tart and serve immediately.