Apparently there are some days when some people can’t even… What do people even mean when they say this? One of the weirdest things about living overseas is coming home. I always find it curious how new little phrases simultaneously (or at least at the pace of an avalanche) slip into everyone’s speech. It’s as if everyone I know has suddenly agreed to use the same oddball phrase at exactly the same moment. (This is where, at least a few years ago, every. single. american acquaintance. would respond with “I know right?”) Yes. Right. You know. And now, everyone I know can’t even. Can’t even complete a sentence, I guess. So, here is a “recipe” for a goat cheese tart that is so simple, you can handle it even on the days when you can’t even.
“Recipe” is actually a pretty generous term for what I am offering here. It is really more of a strategy, a game plan, if you will, for making an absolutely guest-worthy delicious tart out of whatever you happen to have on hand. (As long as one of the things you happen to have on hand is goat cheese…and you should always have this on hand.)
You can whip this goat cheese tart up in about 30 minutes. It is perfect for showcasing whatever veggies are in season, and makes an elegant lunch or dinner when served along side a crisp green salad (and a glass of white wine, obvi).
So, here’s what you need:
Some kind of soft cheese. I use the fresh goat cheese pictured above, because it’s so yummy and they sell it at the grocery store on my way home from work. It is a little harder, a bit more crumbly, and slightly milder in flavor than chèvre. If you are using chèvre, you might cut it half and half with something milder like ricotta.
One egg. The egg is what binds everything together. You can use an extra egg, but the tart will come out a bit firmer.
Veggies. Yay for fresh veg! Am I the only one who gets so completely seduced by the piles and piles of fresh vegetables at the market that I forget my shopping list entirely and wind up at home with several bags of veggies, none of which I have a plan for and none of which seem to go nicely with any of the other aforementioned veggies? no? yes? This tart is my solution to this ever present spring/summer dilemma. Accidentally bought 3 kilos of spring’s first asparagus? Throw it in a goat cheese tart! Found yourself with an entire grocery bag full of winter greens like chard and spinach? Goat cheese tart. Eyes were bigger than your stomach when you planted all those tomatoes? Tart. Tart. Tart.
Herbs. This goat cheese tart is also a great way to show off that summer herb garden. Chives, basil, thyme, oregano, all great options. In fact, you could even make the tart with just cheese and herbs.
Some of my favorite “anything goat cheese tart” combos: Jalapeño and artichoke tart, spinach and artichoke tart, caramelized onion tart, tomato basil tart, sun dried tomato tart, mixed mushroom tart, leek and asparagus tart…
The options are really endless. The trick is, you need about 1-2 cups of veggies. I usually cook the veggies first, unless I am just laying them on top–like asparagus or tomatoes. For asparagus, cut them into more manageable pieces (at least in half) and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and salt and pepper before putting them on top. For tomatoes, I usually slice them and lay them out on a few paper towels while I mix up the rest of the tart to drain a little of the water out.
This recipe is very forgiving. As a basic rule, keep tasting the mixture up until you add the egg. If the cheese/herb/veggie combo tastes good before it goes in the tart, when it comes out it will taste amazing. If it seems to be lacking something, try a little salt and pepper or a squeeze or two of lemon juice.
My favorite savory tart shell is this one I got from Smitten Kitchen. It’s simple, totally yummy, and never shrinks. You could also spread this mixture on top of puff pastry or wrap it up spanakopita style in phyllo dough.
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter cut in cubes
- 1 egg
- 250 grams soft cheese–I use fresh goat cheese
- 1 egg
- lemon juice to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8-10 marinated artichoke hearts (and 2-3 tbsp chopped jalapeños)/10 small asparagus tossed in olive oil/1 1/2 cups cooked spinach or swiss chard/1 large tomato/3/4 cup caramelized onions/1 cup sautéed mushrooms (choose your favorite or another combo that sounds delicious to you)
- about 1/4 cup olive oil
- fresh herbs (optional)
- A few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For the crust–in the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt. Pulse 2-3 times to mix. Add butter and pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add egg and keep pulsing until the mixture begins to clump together and form a large ball. Turn off food processor and remove dough. Knead 3-4 times until the dough sticks together. Pat into a one inch disk and refrigerate while you make the filling.
- For the filling–in a large bowl mash the goat cheese with a fork with 1/8 cup olive oil. The mixture shouldn’t be crumbly, but will still have lumps. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and any herbs to taste. Add the egg and stir until well combined. If you’re using artichoke hearts or spinach, add them now and stir until well incorporated.
- Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator. Roll into a large circle big enough to cover your tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and remove any bits hanging over the edge.
- Spread the cheese and egg mixture evenly into the tart pan. If you are using fresh tomato slices or asparagus, arrange them on top of the tart. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, grind a bit of salt and pepper over the top, and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the edges of the crust turn golden and top of the tart starts to take on a deep golden brown color. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve cool or at room temperature.