It’s time for me to transition back home from Rhode Island where I’ve been for most of the summer. I know how fortunate I am to be able to spend time in a special place with family and friends who are like family to me. But “real life” beckons and I look forward to getting home and settled.
This time in August often transports me to the ride home from camp where I spent two of the most glorious months of the summer for many years. I specifically remember getting out of the car at my house and hearing a cicada symphony welcoming me home. As sad as I might have been to say goodbye to my camp friends and the carefree time spent under the pine trees of New Hampshire, I also really loved school and was ready to get started with my new year. I’m going to try to channel that energy when I get home in a few days! Who knows, maybe the cicadas will sing their chorus of welcome for me once again, the sound I will always associate with late August and a return to reality.
So, I probably mentioned that last year like so many we had a trip cancelled due to Covid. Part of that trip involved a friend and I traveling to Sicily to join Elizabeth Minchilli on a food tour, followed by my husband joining me to explore the island on our own. The good news is that despite the trip being cancelled, my husband and I live vicariously through Elizabeth’s Instagram where she shares her life at home in Rome and in Todi (Umbria) where she owns a vacation retreat. Her aesthetic is wonderful and she rarely posts a meal or a setting that doesn’t make us want to join in.
On occasion, my husband will say “did you see this or that meal on Elizabeth’s Instagram?”, subtely suggesting that he would like that to appear on his dinner plate sometime soon! And so this week, I complied and made Elizabeth’s Zucchini Ricotta Tart, adding some corn, because that’s how she tweaked her own recipe just a week ago. Her recipe was actually adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe for Goat Cheese Asparagus Tart that appeared in her book, Dinner in French. This is the evolution of recipe writing right here because I’ve made my own tweaks still.
Puff pastry is rolled out, scored and topped with a dreamy mixture of ricotta cheese, mascarpone, a mix of parmigiano and pecorino, garlic, herbs (basil is new here) and my addition of some lemon zest. Fresh zucchini and corn are layered on top and sprinkled with some more Parm before being placed into a hot oven and baked for 25 minutes.
I had to experiment with the dish because some of the comments lead me to believe the commercial puff pastry in Italy and here in the US come in different sizes so I wanted to make sure it worked. I made 2 tarts and each worked well, despite the fact that some of the cheese filling did spill a bit over the crust. I think the dough may be a bit larger in Italy. Buy hey, it looked more rustic as a result…
I told you I made two, and brought one to a pot luck gathering of my ladies tennis group where it was enjoyed and I was asked for the recipe, so decided to post it this week. Our hostess, my friend Marte served a beautiful salmon nicoise composed salad as our entree which you can see here…
The other I served to a very happy hubs and daughter 🙂
A couple of tips on the tart, which I have also put into the recipe, is that after rolling out the dough to a 9 by 12 size, I like to put the sheet back into the fridge or even the freezer to firm up a bit before scoring it along the edges as it makes for a cleaner cut and you don’t end up pulling on the dough. Also, it’s good to work quickly when you are spreading the cheese and placing the vegetables as you want the dough to still be as cold as possible when it gets into the hot oven so it gets a good puff!
I adapted Elizabeth’s original recipe by adding in the corn and some lemon zest to the cheese mixture. I also added a combination of mint and basil, but you could use one or both (she just used mint). The recipe calls for some grated hard goat cheese, or you can do as I did and substitute using a store-bought Parmesan-Pecorino combo or just use one. It’s pretty a pretty flexible recipe.
Other than that, the tart is really easy to pull together and you can absolutely use other vegetables as you wish. I think asparagus in the spring would be great, or you can use summer squash alongside the zucchini to add even more color. I think you could even blot dry some nice slices of a beefsteak tomato and give those a whirl. The possibilities are vast and up to your imagination, one of the best tools in the kitchen I believe.
Even better, you can make this tart a lunch or dinner entree, or cut it into small pieces to serve as an appetizer or slightly larger to go alongside a salad as I did. The most important step is to allow the tart to rest for 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven as you want the warm cheese to have time to set up so that when you cut it, you don’t end up with cheese all over your board!
I hope you make this sometime soon. Please let me know if you do!
Until next time…