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zucchini-gruyere tart

September 20, 2011

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Do you remember the first cookbook you ever bought?  Not counting the Calling All Girls Party Book in second grade, I bought my first cookbook with my own money in 1987, the year I graduated from high school.  My Aunt Maria drove me out to one of her favorite gourmet food shops in the Hamptons on Long Island.  Loaves and Fishes was a darling little shingled cottage in Sagaponack and run by a mother-daughter team named Anna and Sybille Pump.  All these years I thought I was their biggest fan, but apparently I’m not the only Loaves and Fishes admirer.  The famous Ina Garten has adapted a recipe or two (or more) from Anna and even dedicated one of her cookbooks to her.

I basically taught myself how to cook from Loaves and Fishes. When The Loaves and Fishes Party Cookbook came out, I scooped it up and read it cover to cover.  Anna Pump taught me how to entertain with ease and it was from this book that I learned what I could prep in advance, an education that still serves me today.  Loaves and Fishes is still around.  I actually visited the cook shop in Bridgehampton last summer.  I wouldn’t say that the recipes in the book are the most healthful or that I even use many of them today, but this recipe for zucchini-gruyere tart from the first book is my hands-down favorite hors d’oeuvre ever.  It should be in the Hors D’oeuvre Hall of Fame.  I have been making it for 24 years and it has never failed me (even when I’ve used  zucchini from (shhhh!) Mexico when they’re out of season here.)  I have also made it with heirloom tomatoes instead of zucchini and it’s always a showstopper.

Manhattan Beach has the potluck thing down.  Last weekend my friends Kristy and Sarah hosted a lovely “small plates night” at Sarah’s home.  You MUST do this sometime.  Everyone brings an appetizer or a bottle of wine and has a fabulous time catching up and watching the sun set over the ocean (it helps that Sarah lives right in front of the Pacific.)  I brought the zucchini tart which I cut into 64 slightly-bigger-than-bite-size pieces and it vanished faster than the chardonnay, which is saying something.

Please don’t be intimidated by the pastry crust — if you’ve rolled out sugar cookie dough, you can do this.  But if you don’t want to, just buy 2 premade pastry crusts and fit it to the baking sheet.  Puff pastry would be another option here.  Every time I make it, I apply the tips I learned from my first books and I blind bake the crust the day before and leave it at room temperature.  Also the day before I shred the cheese, slice the zucchini, make the herb oil and refrigerate them all separately.  After working (i.e. cooking) all day and shuttling kids to their activities, all I needed to do before the party was assemble the tart and freshen up while it baked in the oven.  Now, go find an excuse to make this and then thank Anna Pump.

zucchini-gruyere tart

adapted from Loaves and Fishes

yields approximately 100 1-by-2-inch pieces (I usually cut them larger to yield 64-72 pieces)

CRUST

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all regular white flour)

¾ cup (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 small egg yolks

5 Tablespoons cold water

 

FILLING

4 medium zucchini, about 1 ½ pounds

1 cup fresh parsley leaves

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil

5 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

¾  pound Gruyere cheese, grated

1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese

 

1. To make the crust, place the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse 5 times.  Add the egg yolks and pulse 2 more times.  With the motor running, and the water through the feed tube.  Process only until the dough begins to stick together.  Transfer the dough to a floured surface and quickly form it into a ball.  Wrap the dough in parchment and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. Cut the zucchini diagonally into 1/8- inch slices and place them in a large bowl.   (A mandoline makes this task very easy. You can do this the day before and refrigerate, covered.)

4. Put the parsley, garlic, basil, and thyme in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Sprinkle with the pepper and salt and process until the herbs are chopped fine.  With the motor still running, add the olive oil through the feed tube.  (You can dot his the day before and keep refrigerated in an airtight container.)  Pour the herb mixture over the zucchini slices and mix well.

5. Roll out the pastry dough to a 1/8-inch thickness.  Fit it into a 18-by-12-by-1-inch pan.  Cover the pastry with parchment paper, including the corners.  Pour pie weights over the parchment paper, filling the pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes.  Remove parchment and weights and bake the tart pastry for 5 minutes more. *

6.  Spread the mustard over the bottom of the crust.  Distribute the cheeses over that.  Arrange the zucchini in overlapping rows, covering the cheese.  Pour whatever herb mixture is left in the bowl over the zucchini.

7. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake the tart for 30 minutes more.

 

* The tart pastry can be blind-baked up to the day before, cooled and left covered at room temperature until ready to fill and bake.

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16 Responses to “zucchini-gruyere tart”

  1. Diana says:

    After months of waiting, I finally made this recipe over the holidays. I thought I could cheat and throw it in a pre-made round pie crust (I was tired from all of that wrapping!) but alas, this was a bad idea. So, it was a little bit of a flop. BUT, I did discover that the zucchini prepared according to this recipe is absolutely delicious with eggs! The zucchini holds up in the fridge for a long time and you can chop them up and put them in a little ramekin with egg whites and pop in oven as you’re getting ready for work. Delicious!!

    • Pamela says:

      Oh buggers! Did you prebake the crust first? For next time, if you don’t want to make the crust from scratch, I would use store-bought puff pastry. As far as the zucchini mixture, I agree it’s so delish. I love it with fish in parchment!

  2. lora says:

    I dont have pie weights. Anything else I can use?

    • Pamela says:

      Yes! You can use dried beans as pie weights (little known fact: I have been using the same dried beans for pie weights since college!) You just won’t be able to use those same beans afterwards for eating.

    • marion says:

      You can also put down a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and use pennies or other coins. Be careful when you remove the shell the coins will be hot.

  3. Kathie says:

    Pamela,
    This is a delicious dish. It was a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner. I do have a question though….when in step 5 you say to bake five minutes “more”, was I supposed to bake it before that and then remove the parchment and bake 5 minutes “more”? I have done that with other recipes for pastry. I did do that, because I was afraid that if I didn’t, the pastry would be too soggy. Can you clairfy?

  4. Carla says:

    Hi Pamela,
    Is it possible/okay to make the pastry crust in advance and refrigerate?
    Thanks! So excited to make this later in the week.

    • Pamela says:

      Absolutely! There are lots of ways you can prep the crust in advance. You can make it weeks ahead and freeze the disk, well wrapped. Or you can make it up to three days in advance and refrigerate the disk, well wrapped. In both cases, allow the dough to soften up enough so you can roll it easily. Whenever I make this, however, I bake the crust the day before as per the directions in Step 5. The next day I spread the mustard, etc. and bake for 30 minutes. If it’s convenient for you, I would also grate the cheese up to three or four days in advance; slice the zucchini the day before and make the herb oil the day before. Keep everything refrigerated. You will loooove this!

  5. Kristy Kinsey says:

    Thanks for the props, Pamela!!!

  6. Mia says:

    Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack, NY still looks the same. I was there this summer and could not resist buying some of the wonderful goodies. I hoped that a “real” cookbook would inspire you, and indeed it did; you have not stopped cooking since then, much to everyone’s great joy. Yes, thank you, Anna Pump, but thank YOU, Pamela, for being such a fantastic student and TEACHER!
    Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton was another of our gourmet stops, but unfortunately has closed.

    • Pamela says:

      I still find it sad that Loaves and Fishes never received the same kind of recognition as Barefoot, but happy it’s still around!

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