Photo by John D. Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com
How did we "beat” that last lingering bucket of fall beets in our basement root cellar? No more roasting or pickling for us. We knocked out those beets in the classiest, tastiest, most bistro-inspired way possible: We made tarts. A cross between a quiche and a savory tart, Chef Gordon Hamersley’s recipe for Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet and Walnut Tarts first drew us in with the contrast of the vivid, deep-maroon beets against the white goat cheese.
This recipe is found in Chef Hamersley’s cookbook, Bistro Cooking at Home (Broadway Boods, 2003). He, along with his wife Fiona, have operated Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston for more than 20 years, creating quite the loyal following for their rustic dishes that play on New England’s agricultural diversity.
"As the tart bakes, some of the beet juice will color the custard and the goat cheese, giving each slice a pretty, almost marbleized look,” Chef Hamersley says. "Since the flavors are a riff on the classic beet, walnut and goat cheese salad, this tart pairs especially well with greens tossed with a bright vinaigrette."
The concept of bistro cooking represents the ultimate in winter comfort food: simple, hearty, seasonal and local.
"Bistro cooking is bold and fully flavored, and yet it feels more like the best home cooking than restaurant fare,” Chef Hamersley says. "[My cookbook’s] collection of recipes works especially well for entertaining and demonstrates just how liberating bistro-style cooking can be."
We immediately fell in love with this tart’s flavor combo and made the recipe several times, but we’ve added our own personal touches.
- For the crust, we used the double pie crust recipe from our Farmstead Chef cookbook, though any basic crust will work.
- Instead of one 10-inch tart pan, we used six 4-inch round mini tart/quiche pans, the same ones we use for making mini pies. They make great individual servings and are easy to freeze.
- Note the crust needs to be blind-baked, which might sound a bit intimidating but basically means to pre-cook the crust before adding the filling. This keeps the crust nice and crisp. After rolling out the crust and placing it in the pans, we lined each crust with aluminum foil to prevent browning and filled the tarts with uncooked beans from the pantry (so the bottom doesn’t poof up and the sides fall in). Bake at 400 degrees F for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the sides are nicely golden. Remove from oven, remove beans and foil, and cool completely before filling.
- We used evaporated milk because we didn’t have any heavy cream, which worked fine.
Thanks to Chef Hamersley for sharing his recipe!
Recipe: Fresh Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Walnut Tart
Courtesy Chef Gordon Hamersley, from Bistro Cooking at Home (Broadway Books, 2003)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 2 to 3 small beets
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 T. unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 T. dry white wine
- tart dough, shaped and blind-baked
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)
- 2-3 T. walnut oil (optional)
- 2 T. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash beets and dry with paper towel.
Place beets in small ovenproof pan, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake about 1 hour, until beets are tender when pierced with paring knife.
Allow beets to cool. Peel off skins using small knife and dice into medium-sized pieces. (Be careful, as beet juice can stain counters, towels and even your hands; you might want to wear gloves for this step.)
In sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the, season with salt, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the onion is just tender, about 7 minutes. Add white wine and cook for 1 more minute, scraping any browned bits stuck to bottom of pan.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss together beets and onion, and place into blind-baked tart shell.
Whisk together eggs and cream, season well with salt and pepper, and carefully pour over beets and onion, letting cream seep evenly into beets. Dot the goat cheese along top of tart. Put tart on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top of the tart and drizzle walnut oil over it, if using. Return the tart to the oven and bake until just set, an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the tart with chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Savoring the good life,
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