Most Beautiful Summer Spiral Tart
If you want to wow your guests with something fresh, delicious and beautiful, you can’t beat this tart! Served with a simple salad, it’s the epitome of easy summer elegance.
The secret to this gorgeous tart is to choose vegetables that are the same width, so you end up with slices that are the same “height” when you compose the tart. The best size are vegetables that are about 1-inch to 1¼-inches thick. This will be a bit thick for a carrot, but it will be blanched to soften.
You can vary the assortment of vegetables depending on what’s available at your Farmer’s Market. For instance, you might decide to use various colors of carrots. The best tarts will have a variety of tastes and textures, although I was very tempted the other day to buy some red, white and bluish-purple eggplants to make a purely Americana-looking tart!
It’s best to buy a couple extra vegetables in case yours are particularly small – or – just bring your quiche dish when you go shopping and eyeball the quantities by placing the vegetables into the dish. Vegetables that fit well into the dish should be the right quantity after they are sliced and rolled. This tart keeps very well in the fridge and is even easier to cut the next day when chilled. If you have any leftovers, I suggest you slice them first, then reheat them in the microwave.
Summer Spiral Tart
1 Pillsbury Pie Crust
Olive oil non-stick spray
1 each: thin zucchini, thin summer squash, small eggplant, thick carrot
6 ounces of fresh goat cheese, crumbled or broken into small pieces
½ cup grated cheese, such as Italian blend or mozzarella
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 basil blossom
½ small onion, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 slices ham (sandwich style meat), cut into 1-inch wide lengths (generally 3 per slice)
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Put one round of pie crust into a lightly oiled quiche dish. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Set the crust aside to cool down a bit.
Peel the carrot. Slice the zucchini, squash, eggplant and carrot to an even thickness. Unless you have tremendously accurate knife skills, the easiest way to do this is to use a mandoline. The best-looking tart will have a long length of skin showcasing the bright colors. Set each vegetable aside separately. If you need to trim the vegetables to have them all the same width, just save the trimmings for your next salad or soup!
When slicing the eggplant, place the slices in a bowl of “acidulated water” (water with a half a lemon squeezed into it) to prevent the eggplant from browning. Dry the eggplants well with a paper towel before adding to the tart.
After slicing the carrot blanch the slices in a pan of boiling water for about 10 seconds – just long enough to soften them a little and make them more pliable. Dry the carrots well with a paper towel before adding to the tart.
To form the tart, spread the goat cheese, grated cheese and scallions on the bottom of the pie crust. This will form a base on which you can stand rolls of vegetables and ham on their sides, beginning at the center and working your way to the outside of the dish. You don’t have to worry about using any particular pattern just be creative and alternate the colors of the skin on top for the best effect. I like to begin the center of the tart with a blossom from a basil plant but if you don’t have one you can just begin rolling the vegetables at the center of the dish.
Alternate the vegetables and ham slices until you reach the edge of the tart. Tuck in the onion slices throughout the tart and sprinkle with the crumbled bacon.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl then pour over the tart. The eggs will help to give a little more structure to the tart and a quiche-like texture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Depending on the water content in your vegetables and also in your cheese, the top of the egg-custard might still be a bit loose and watery. If this happens, carefully pour out some of the liquid then continue baking for 5 additional minutes.
For a vegetarian version, just omit the ham and bacon. You can also vary the seasonings by adding chopped dill or sage over the cheese.