About a month ago, as I was going through the freezer, trying to organize the containers of unlabeled soups and broths (bad Brian) and bags of frozen fruit and vegetables, that I came across a box of puff pastry. I took it out and looked at it curiously, "When had we purchased this? " I couldn't remember the last time I'd used puff pastry or phyllo or any kind of frozen crust (probably years) and, seeing that the box was opened, I tossed it. It was later that day, while flipping through Jennifer Farley's lovely cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, that I stumbled on a tart recipe that I just had to make. Of course, it called for puff pastry. A new box was acquired... and this time it was not neglected.
I loved Jennifer's idea of caramelizing the leeks and, as is, her recipe works beautifully. In order to provide my own spin, however, I simply sautéed the leeks and opted to include some roasted garlic and a layer of sun-dried tomato spread to the bottom of the tart. This, paired with a light salad and a glass of wine, made for a fabulous dinner. For those meat-lovers out there, I think some bacon on top wouldn't hurt. Just an idea. But, really, this is a very satisfying vegetarian meal... no bacon required.
ARTICHOKE, SPINACH AND LEEK TART WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD
Adapted from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley
8-10 as an appetizer
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 leeks)
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke quarters, drained
1-2 heads roasted garlic (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato spread (see recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 to 5 cups fresh spinach leaves
Ground black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, chilled (but no longer frozen)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks with a pinch of salt. Sweat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the artichokes to the pan, along with the thyme. Cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Place the spinach in a Dutch oven or large skillet with a splash of water or olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the spinach to wilt, stirring periodically, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
4. Roll out the chilled puff pastry until it is approximately 11 x 15 inches. Place the dough on the baking sheet. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato spread over the puff pastry so it is evenly coated, but leave a small border at the edge of the dough. Distribute the leeks, artichokes, spinach, roasted garlic evenly. Top with the cheese.
5. Bake the tart for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden and firm. Periodically check on the tart while it's cooking. If part of the dough around the edge inflates with an air bubble, gently prick with a fork to deflate.
6. Slice and serve.
Whole head of garlic, skin removed
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with the rack positioned in the middle.
2. Using a knife, trim 1/4" off the top of the head of garlic, which will reveal the tips of the cloves.
3. Place heads of garlic (you can do 3-4 at a time), in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil.
4. Drizzle olive oil on top of exposed garlic cloves. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and transfer to oven.
5. Bake for 55 minutes (checking after 40 minutes), or until it turns a golden brown color.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8.5 ounce jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté onion, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, Stir in garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato paste. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add vinegar, basil, thyme, black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse until ingredients are well-combined, but not completely blended. If necessary, season with additional salt.