I did it again. I mentioned in a post, dated a few months back, that during one of my bi-monthly Costco sprees, I had purchased a one-pound log of goat cheese because of the remarkably low price. I was accustomed to paying almost four dollars for a three-ounce portion at my local grocery store, so obviously it was tough for me to pass up over five times as much for the bargain price of five dollars. Skeptical of the quality, I still tossed it into my cart, later discovering that it was just as delicious, if not better, than some of the pricey Whole Foods versions that I had previously bought.
The problem arose after I got home and realized just how far that one-pound quantity could go. As much as I love it, goat cheese is not something that I use in mass quantities--a crumbled tablespoon here, a thin layer there--so I was suddenly tasked with creating new ways to incorporate it into my recipes. A quesadilla, a souffle, and several types of crostini later, I had worked my way through the 16-ounces of chevre, vowing that I would only buy that portion again if I had a specific use for it.
I lied. I just couldn't resist such a bargain, especially when it was still at the same price, despite the fact that every other food cost has risen. The goat cheese was like a beacon, in all of its creamy white glory, calling to me from the cheese case and reminding me of the good times that we had together in the kitchen. So, I caved and added it to my overflowing cart.
Fortunately, this time around, I had a few recipe ideas up my sleeve, which call for generous amounts of goat cheese. This puff pastry based savory tart is one of them. I thought that the tangy flavor of the goat cheese would complement both the rich and buttery pastry crust and the mild-tasting vegetables. Softening it and then mixing it with the pesto gives it a whole new taste, and the fact that it is spreadable allows for a nice even layer. Five ounces down, eleven to go. Of course, I may make this again very soon, which would only leave me with six! Here are a few tips for this savory, summery tart:
- I like the extra color obtained by using both zucchini and yellow squash, but this tart can be made with just one or the other, if desired.
- Be sure to drain quite a bit of the extra water from the vegetables after sauteing them, but not so much as to crush them, so that the tart doesn't become soggy during the baking process.
- Roma tomatoes can be substituted with vine-ripened, hothouse, heirloom, or even chopped grape varietals.
- Puff pastry is easiest to work with if, after thawing, you let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes prior to rolling out. Otherwise, it tends to be too stiff, and you risk breaking it into pieces when unfolding.
- This recipe can also be served as a vegetarian entree, with a side salad, or as a dish for a brunch.
Summer Squash, Goat Cheese, and Tomato Tart
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound small yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound zucchini squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
Flour for dusting
14 ounces puff pastry, chilled
1 large plum tomato, very thinly sliced
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
10 pitted Kalamata or green olives, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash and the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash and onion are lightly browned. Remove the skillet from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a strainer and press lightly to drain.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend the pesto together with the goat cheese. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 13-inch square; trim the square to 12 inches. Prick the pastry with a fork all over and transfer it to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Spread the goat cheese mixture evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with the squash mixture. Arrange the tomato slices on the tart and season with salt and pepper. Fold up the sides, pressing the corners together. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake in the lower third of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the bottom is completely cooked through. Sprinkle with the olives, cut into squares, and serve.