I’ve always liked working with frozen puff pastry, but this winter, I’ve gone a little crazy. There’s just so much you can do with the product. Concocting sweet or savory tarts, turnovers, appetizer bites, even pizzas, with such elegance, no one will believe you slapped it all together in less than an hour. The key for spontaneity, is to make sure you have some defrosted pastry waiting in the fridge – it will keep this way for a week, possibly more. You can also defrost the product on the kitchen counter fairly quickly, less than an hour depending on the brand – the Trader Joe’s version is ready in 20 minutes.
It’s true, I fully admit, there’s nothing very local or homemade about buying prepackaged frozen foods. But equally true is that though we take our local/homemade “mission” very seriously, part of what we’re also about is going easy on ourselves and having fun cooking together. The occasional short-cut to tasty chow made possible by a high-quality frozen product is more than welcome in our kitchen. I mean, who am I really kidding? Making my own puff pastry dough while juggling a busy household with two kids, work and the necessity of getting food on the table in a reasonably sane amount of time? I don’t think so. Purchase a high quality version of frozen pastry from your local grocer or Whole Foods, and you’ll find there’s nothing really objectionable in the list of ingredients – nothing that fails the “pronounceability” test, a reliable indicator of additives, preservatives and other unhealthy stuff. Yes, it’s not truly home-made or local, but the rest of the tart truly is.
Most of us are familiar with puff pastry by virtue of breakfast turnovers and fruit topped desserts. This recipe delivers a savory version crowned with an assemblage of roasted winter vegetables – equally delightful served as an appetizer, main course, or side dish. The roasting adds some time – but the resulting taste more than makes up for the added prep. Alternatively you can sauté sliced vegetables on the stove in a little olive oil. I often do this when I’m more pressed for time – potatoes and onion slices together work very nicely. The roots called for in this dish would do equally well. For sautéing, slice the vegetables thinly, for quick and even cooking. Cook until they are still a bit underdone as they will finish up in the oven.
Try varying the veggies – sweet potato, fennel, winter squash or celery root will all produce sensational results. Toss in some chopped kalamata olives or modify the herbs – thyme for instance. You can add some crumbled cheese into the mix – goat, parmesan and feta for instance. The roasted vegetables can be cooked in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before assembling the tart.
Look for frozen puff pastry in the freezer section with pie crusts in most super markets.
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
- 10 oz turnip, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 10 oz potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 large onion, cut into quarter rounds, ½ inch thick
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp minced fresh rosemary
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, until golden brown in spots, turning at least once during roasting. Remove from oven, set aside.
- While vegetables are roasting, unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Remove paper liners and cut pastry into strips about 4-5 inches wide (length is unimportant and depends on specific product). Transfer pastry to a parchment lined baking sheet (may require more than one). Refrigerate while vegetables finish roasting.
- When vegetables are done, place in a bowl and toss with remaining 1 Tbsp oil, vinegar and rosemary. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Remove baking sheets with pastry from fridge. Spoon vegetables over the pastry, leaving a ¾ to one inch border around edges. The border is very important to allow the pastry to puff up around the edges.
- Bake the tarts until the pastry is deeply browned, about 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately or cool and serve at room temp.