Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weekday Cooking: Tarting Up The Vegetable Left Overs


We’re in vegetable harvest heaven right now (isn’t everyone?) and as much as I enjoy the summer bounty, there are generally left over harvest remnants from the week. A few tomatoes, an extra ear of corn, a partial bunch of basil, I know I’m not alone in this.

During the week, the goal is to find dishes that allow something to simmer/bake/marinade while the rest of the meal comes together (or sometimes just cooks on it’s own while I relax on the couch).

I dislike wasting food, especially during our local growing season when everything is at it’s peak and that encourages me to get creative using up the bits and pieces. It was a pleasant enough day that using the oven wasn’t out of the question, so I arrived at a simple ricotta tart as the base for a simple salad of vegetable remnants.

The tart is simple to put together: 15oz (one small container) of fresh ricotta, 3 eggs, one cup grated cheese of your preference (I used aged parmesan) and two teaspoons of herbs.  I had chives in the fridge and thought they would work well.
Grease a 9” round or square pan and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. (Everyone’s oven is different, so check on the tart after 30 mins).
You’re welcome to use a pie crust as a base if you’d like something more fancy, but I was serving the tart with garlic bread and didn’t want to over starch us up.

While the tart was baking, I diced up the tomatoes, sliced the corn from the cobb and added it to the tomatoes then hand tore up a few leaves of basil. It came out to be a little less than 2 cups of salad. I tossed the mixture with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and pinches of salt, pepper and oregano.

After pulling the tart out of the oven and letting it rest for 10 minutes, I cut the tart into wedges and spooned some of the marinating salad over it.

The ricotta tart is a great base for most vegetables as the herbs you add can be tailored to whatever your mood. I’ve made it to go with various vegetable sautees, fresh tomato sauces and in colder weather warm sauces. (And in our house, it’s also great for breakfast!)

Now I just need to work on not photographing things on our black plates… 

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