With ten mouths to feed, my daddy’s vegetable garden in Eunice, La. was an essential part of our family’s meal-plan. I remember those early years when he experimented with growing things – things that had a knack for producing an abundance of food – particularly tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchinis (not to mention cucumbers and bell peppers). For the first few summers he’d produce entire mountain ranges of tomatoes that we couldn’t possibly consume. Momma, bless her determined heart, did her best to preserve some of them by canning them – but even that wasn’t enough to chip away at the pile that kept growing as the season wore on. And, while we all seemed to love the eggplants and cucumbers, there was always a point where our bodies just could not handle any more of those, either.
Over the years Daddy did learn to temper – and taper – his enthusiasm, and grew more appropriate quantities of vegetables. But even so, there were seasons when the garden yield was way more than even our large family could possibly handle.
And here I am, all these eons later, at our home in upstate New York, once again in the throes of the summer garden-bloat season: My husband, Aubyn, has grown a mile-high pile of produce and I am again scrambling to find ways to use or preserve it all. Most of our neighbors and friends have gardens and so are in the same boat: giving veggies away is just not gonna do the trick, especially since the most likely target for summer vegetable-unloading – work colleagues in the office in the City – is no longer an option, given the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean you have to wince as your garden bounty goes bad. Today’s recipe is one really good way to use up some of that bounty: Summer Vegetable Tart. What’s great about this tart is that it will last about three months in the freezer, so you can make several.
For the Crust
1.5 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of table salt
1 stick of cold butter, cubed
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
For the Filling
1 small zucchini (about a pound by weight), sliced lengthwise
1 small (about 1 pound by weight) eggplant, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons of olive oil for roasting
1 head of garlic, peeled and sliced
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms (button or Portobello)
Two medium tomatoes, sliced thin and patted dry
3/4 cup of whipping cream
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar
Season to taste (I use a blend of black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and salt)
For the Crust
1 – Combine the flour, salt, and cubed butter in a food processor.
2 – Pulse 5-6 times until crumbly.
3 – Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water and pulse another 3 to 4 times.
4 – Remove from processor and form a ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling out. (Can refrigerate for a day or so before rolling out.)
5 – Press the rolled dough into a tart pan so that the bottom and sides are covered with dough.
6 – Poke the dough with a fork in several places, then bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
For the Filling
1 – Coat the sliced zucchini and eggplant with olive oil and dust lightly with salt and pepper. On a cookie sheet, roast for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven, turning over each piece after 7 minutes. Alternatively, the vegetables can be grilled outdoors. After coating with olive oil and a light dusting of salt and pepper, grill the slices until they are just charred – about 2 minutes per side.
2 – Layer each ingredient onto the par-baked crust, starting with the zucchini and eggplant then garlic slices, mushrooms, and finally the tomatoes.
3 – In a mixing bowl, beat the two eggs with the whipping cream until fully blended. Add the grated cheddar and seasonings and mix well.
4 – Pour the mixture over the layered vegetables and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until the tart is golden brown.
© All Rights Reserved. Check out my book, Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy, where I mention more food and how it played a part in our lives. This vegetable tart recipe is from my cookbook: “Fix Me A Plate!” Please FOLLOW me! (form is at the bottom of this page).