We had an abundant season of cherry tomatoes in our little backyard vegetable patch. We had sun kissed reds, crunchy yellows and beautiful drop shaped tangerine beauties hanging from the tomato vines. Most of them got popped straight in to our mouths, delighting us with the burst of juicy flavour. The rest got baked in to Sour Cream Tarts, several times during the course of summer.
A good tart has two and sometimes three elements working together – the base, the filling, the topping. A great, flavoursome base is almost always a must. Something that will lift and heighten the flavours of the filling. The filling can power through by itself or be complimented by a beautiful topping. Once you’ve got these elements in place, you’ve got yourself a beautiful tart. The simpler, the better. Fresh, in season ingredients always produce the best results.
I always seem to have a bowl of fresh ricotta in the refrigerator. One of my favourite use for fresh ricotta is the Lemon Ricotta Cake
. And then whatever is left gets used up in a savoury tart. Inspired by Ottolenghi’s Very Full Tart from the brilliant vegetarian cookbook Plenty, this tart has a sour cream shortcrust base, a herb infused ricotta filling and a parade of seasonal oven roasted vegetables, mainly cherry tomatoes and eggplant. Forgoing the exact measurement method, I bake this one by feel; a regular yahoo in the kitchen. The amount of pastry is determined by the tart pan I choose, the filling also decided based on the size of the tart. I like to stir the roast veggies through the ricotta and also heap them on top for a more robust tart that doesn’t skimp on vegetables. It is deceptively light to look at, but hearty and filling. Maybe that is why the guys at Ottolenghi call it the Very Full Tart.
I first bought Caréme pastry at the Good Food And Wine Show in Sydney in 2011. Needless to say, I will never buy any other pastry ever again. Nor will I feel the pressure to make my own. Caréme is a family run business in the Barossa Valley specialising in hand-crafted pastry. They have a beautiful range of pastry that I buy from Thomas Dux regularly. My favourite is the Sour Cream Shortcrust Pastry
which I have used for this recipe.
Food Styling, Photography & Prop Alert –
The gorgeous hydrangea is from my garden. The hydrangea vase is a recycled pasta sauce bottle, originally $2 from the supermarket. Vintage look Pokal Glasses
– from Ikea $3.99 for 6. Water pitcher – $1 from Thrift Store. Vintage Silver Forks – $1 each from Thrift Store. Rectangle Tart Tin
– $11.95 by Baker’s Secret from Kitchenware Direct. Brown & Printed linen – $2 each from Spotlight. Vintage wood handle knife – $1 from Thrift Store. Vintage English Sage Green Stoneware Dishes – $4 each from Thrift Store. Round French Cheese Board – $100 by Trudeau
from Peters Of Kensington. Wooden Tabletop Sheet – $9 from Bunnings.
Sour Cream Tart
Preparation Time – 15 minutes
Roasting Time – 30 minutes
Baking Time – 70 minutes
Serves – 6
2 small eggplants, cut into 2cm rounds
1 large sweet potato, coarsely diced
1 large spanish onion, thickly sliced
8 to 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh smooth low-fat ricotta
1 cup lite sour cream
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 230C. Combine aubergines, sweet potatoes and onion in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the oil and toss the vegetables to coat. Spread the vegetables on a lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until they are golden and starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Grease a 24cm round or 38cmx12cm rectangular loose based tart tin. If using thawed frozen pastry, roll it gently over the tart tin lining it, pressing gently in the corners. Make sure there is excess pastry hanging over the top. Line the pastry with baking paper and place pie weights/uncooked rice/uncooked beans to weigh the pastry down. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C. Remove from oven. Carefully remove the paper with the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes until it turns a beautiful shade of golden. Remove and cool.
Scatter some of the roast veggies over the cooked pastry case. In a large bowl whisk together the ricotta, sour cream, eggs, half the thyme, salt and pepper. Gently, scoop this ricotta mixture over the roast veggies until it is at the level of the top edge of the tart tin. Dot the ricotta mixture with some of the remaining roast veggies, cherry tomato halves and thyme.
Bake in the oven at 180C for approximately 30 minutes until set and the top is starting to brown evenly. Remove from oven, rest the pastry for 10 minutes. At this point, the pastry will shrink further into the tin. Break the excess off and serve with salad greens.
Don’t feel obliged to use up all the ricotta mixture and veggies. I always make extra just to make sure I don’t run out while filling up the tart case. The leftover ricotta mixture and roast veggies get baked into smaller versions of this tart. The recipe above will definitely yield enough for a big tart and two smaller single serve ones.
The original recipe has full cream ricotta, equal parts feta and double cream. I have opted for a lighter version by going with low fat ricotta, totally skipping the feta and using lite sour cream. The tang of the sour cream in the filling and in the pastry is absolutely beautiful with the almost sweet ricotta and thyme.