this week in our kitchen: carrot tart

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Spring has sprung and that means all of the yummy produce we can handle! And, while we’re still anxiously awaiting the best part of spring — the opening of our local farmers’ markets — we’re finding many treasures at our local grocery store to experiment with new recipes.

Most recently, we tried a to-die-for carrot tart. It was my first experience with puff pastry in this form and, truth be told, I sort of failed — despite taking care to pierce the pastry before baking — and was greeted with a very much too puffed base for the tart. Luckily, the weight of the cheese mixture, carrots and other toppings saved me.

This recipe was also my first experience with caramelized onions. The recipe didn’t call for them but we thought it would be a good addition, especially after reading the recipe comments that mentioned the flavor being a bit bland. The onions turned out spectacularly, despite me adding a bit too much sugar (coconut).

A word of warning though, this is not a quick weeknight dinner — especially if go the caramelized onions path. I tackled it on my own before my husband arrived home from work and it took a full hour of pretty active chopping and stirring. If you want a meal that takes a bit of effort (and have the time and energy to give) but is so worth it in the end, give this tart a try.

CARROT TART WITH RICOTTA AND FETA

Adapted from NYT Cooking
Total time: 1 hours 30 minutes / Serves 8

The What

  • Flour, for rolling out dough
  • 1 (14-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pound multicolored carrots, scrubbed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus about 1 teaspoon for onions
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces ricotta
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  •  Chopped fresh parsley, chervil or chives, for garnish
  • Herbs de Provance
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 mediums onions, yellow, white, or red, sliced
  • Butter (optional)
  • Salt
  • Sugar (optional) — I used coconut sugar

The How

  1. If you’re including caramelized onions in your dish, start that process now. I’ve included the full instructions immediately below but you’ll want to work on these as you’re completing the other steps in the recipe.
    1. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally.
    2. Depending on how strong your stovetop burner is you may need to reduce the heat to medium or medium low to prevent the onions from burning or drying out.
    3. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. (I add only about a teaspoon of sugar for 5 onions, you can add more.) One trick to keeping the onions from drying out as they cook is to add a little water to the pan.
    4. Cook, stirring every few minutes: Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn.
    5. Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich, browned color. At the end of the cooking process you might want to add a little balsamic vinegar or wine to help deglaze the pan and bring some additional flavor to the onions.
  2. Tart: Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Using a paring knife, lightly score a border around the perimeter of the puff pastry about a 1/4-inch away from the edges. Place puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick the pastry inside the border using a fork to prevent puffing in the center. Bake on top rack until puff pastry is lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, toss carrots with 1 tablespoon oil, season generously with salt and pepper and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast carrots on the bottom rack (underneath the puff pastry) until the edges are golden brown and carrots are still crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While puff pastry and carrots are in the oven, blend ricotta, feta and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence seasoning.
  5. Spread the cheese mixture onto the puff pastry up to the border and arrange the carrots in a single layer on top. Add the caramelized onions.
  6. Bake until the carrots are tender and the edges of the cheese mixture are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Top with radishes and sprinkle with herbs before serving.
  8. Enjoy!

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