So this last week I found myself feeling swamped, just completely underwater on things to do. I’m not sure how it happened, but suddenly not only was there not enough time for all the things I’d like to do (never is), there wasn’t enough for all the things I needed to do.
I’ve been feeling a milder version of this all fall, like I’ve got a lot to do, and while I still want to eat a homemade dinner every night, I don’t necessarily want to make one up from scratch every night. Much less do I want to make something separate for lunch! Woe to those who might ask me what’s to eat when I’m feeling overwhelmed . . .
I’ve been making a lot of these (and a lot of soups, too), things that last well beyond the initial meal and are pretty much ready to go subsequently. I’m calling them tarts, like the savory French tarts. I kind of wore out my own use and conception of the word quiche in the first year I ever joined a CSA. That time, Bryan and I split a share with my parents, and my dad and I, who were the main cooks of the project, fell back on quiche again and again as a way to use up all the greens we got. After that (and discovering more uses for the green stuff), I didn’t make it much. At all. For years.
It’s baaaack … and better than before! I’ve been making a crust with a little cornmeal in it, and a variety of interesting new fillings. My two current favorites (recipes below) are: leek and potato with green chile, and sweet potato with greens.
Savory Tart Crust with Cornmeal
Note: if you are going gluten free, or just happen to run out of flour, it’s easy to make these recipes crustless. Just grease your pie pan well, and skip to the fillings.
If you’re making a crust, make it first, so that it has plenty of time to chill.
Mix in a small bowl:
1 cup flour (white, whole wheat, or a mixture, your choice)
1/4 cup corn meal (blue is my favorite)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in 5 Tablespoons butter until the biggest chunks are pea-sized. Mix in very cold water just a little bit at a time, until the dough holds together, and then put the dough in the refrigerator.
Potato, Leek and Green Chile
Cut off the tops/dark green parts of 2-3 medium-sized leeks. (Did you know you can use those tops instead of onions for soup stock? I’ve been doing it all the time lately.) Slice the leeks in half, rinse out dirt, and chop into fairly thin slices. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter over med/low heat, add the leeks and a generous splash of white wine or sherry (or water, but I recommend the wine). Continue cooking, covered, on low, adding more wine if necessary to keep moist, until the leeks are translucent and slightly gooey. (I got this idea from a recipe for leek confit on Bon Appétit, and it’s been a go-to for leeks since.)
Set the oven to 425° F. Slice 2 small/medium potatoes fairly thin, skin on (scrub them first). Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil, and salt if desired. Toss to coat and roast for about 10 minutes, until browned on one side, turn the slices over and roast another 5 minutes or so, until both sides have golden brown spots. Set aside.
Chop 1-2 roasted green chiles (depending on heat). (Aren’t you glad you froze some?)
Sweet Potato and Greens
I used kale for this, use 1 bunch of whatever greens you need to get rid of. Slice or pull the leaves from the ribs, and steam them in a steamer basket over simmering water until bright green and wilted. Chop or pulse in the food processor depending on how fine you want them chopped.
Roast sweet potatoes the same way as the potatoes above.
Egg Filling & Assembly
Lower the oven temp to 375° F
For either version (or your own creation) get out the crust, and roll it into a rough circle. It doesn’t need to be too thin, the recipe makes plenty. I use a 9″ pie pan. Set the crust in your pan and press it into shape. If necessary adjust the sides by pulling off overhanging pieces and sticking them in gaps.
Beat together (you can use the pie crust bowl):
Update: I’m not sure how or why, but when I first started making these I thought 4 eggs was plenty … now I don’t, and I almost always use 5. If you find that you’ve made more filling than you intended and it doesn’t seem like there’s enough egg in the mixture, you can even use 6. The whole thing will be thicker and may take a little longer to cook, but it’s up to you!
A generous splash heavy cream
A few Tablespoons grated cheese (seriously, any cheese you have on hand and like is good.)
Fresh ground pepper
(Salt is optional, depending on taste and saltiness of cheese)
Pour a bit of the egg mixture into the bottom of the crust (or the pan if you are going no-crust). Add your vegetables. If you are using potatoes I highly recommend putting them on top, so they get nice and browned. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning once, until the tart is golden on top, puffed up, and just moist inside when tested with a knife.
One of these makes a good part of a dinner, plus a few more lunches/brunches for me and Bryan—hooray! It might be a good option to stave off the hungry hoards while you work on Thanksgiving dinner, or a good make-ahead family breakfast for a special day. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving all you Americans!