Saturday, 31 May 2014

Mediterranean tart (eggplant, cherry tomatoes and ricotta)

Mediterranean tart (eggplant, cherry tomatoes and ricotta)

Fast post today, just to share the recipe of a very nice savory tart that inspired me as soon as I saw it on the cover of the Food magazine's May issue.
Since I had invited some friends for a dinner at home, I decided to try it for the occasion. I think that a quiche is a perfect start for an informal meal with friends and has many advantages too: it can be prepared in advance, and served hot, lightly warm or at room temperature, especially during summertime; it is very beautiful and, even more important, delicious.
And if there is any leftover, you have the lunch ready for the day after: all you need is a green or mixed salad and a slice of bread (and - why not? - a glass of beer).
Since I liked the combination of ingredients suggested in the recipe I did not make any modification, except for reducing a bit the quantity of halloumi cheese to put on top; but both the pastry and the filling are suitable for a big range of variations and future experimentation.
Slice of Mediterranean tart (eggplant, cherry tomatoes and ricotta)

Mediterranean tart (eggplant, cherry tomatoes and ricotta)
recipe by Eric Lanlard published on Food Magazine, May 2014
serves  6 to 8
For the pastry
250 g all purpose flour, plus extra for
125 g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, plus extra for greasing
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling
4 tbsp olive oil
3 medium red onions, sliced
1 large eggplant, cut into 1 cm thick slices
150 g cherry tomatoes, halved
200 g ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
50 ml double cream (I used single cream for a lighter result)
200 g halloumi, thinly sliced (150 g are enough)
6 anchovies, sliced lengthways into strips
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil to serve (optional)

Grease a 23 cm round tart tin or spring-form pan and  line it with parchment paper (paper is not strictly necessary, but I like to use it to prevent the crust from sticking on the pan).
Put the flour and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl and, using fingers, rub in the cubed chilled butter until the mixture becomes like fine breadcrumbs. Using a knife, mix in the egg yolk, then add, a little at a time for preventing the dough to become too sticky, 2 or 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water until the mixture comes together.
When preparing the pastry it is important that everything is cold: keep your hands cool (or use two knives for mixing), use butter cold from the fridge and put some ice into the water before using.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 0,5 cm and use it to line the tarte tin. Put it in the fridge and chill it for 30 min to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Remove the tin from the fridge, prick the base with a fork, line it with baking paper, fill it with baking beans (or rice or beans) and blind-bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Prepare the filling. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy non-stick pan, add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt and cook gently over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the onions begin to turn golden.
In the meantime, brush the eggplant slices with the remaining olive oil. Heat a griddle or heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat and grill the eggplant slices for a couple of minutes on each side until lightly browned.
Put the ricotta in a mixing bowl and mix until smooth, add the egg, season with salt and pepper and mix until creamy.
Cover the base of the pre-cooked pastry with the onions, then layer the eggplant slices and halloumi over the top, finally add the cherry tomatoes. Pour over the ricotta mixture, then top with the anchovies, caper and a generous sprinkle of oregano.
Mediterranean tart (eggplant, cherry tomatoes and ricotta) before baking

Put into the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until set and golden on the surface.
It can be served hot, lukewarm or at room temperature.
Before serving, you can drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil (I do not think it is necessary).
Mediterranean tart (eggplant, cherry tomatoes and ricotta)

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