Please learn from my mistakes.
(1) Read all recipes through before tackling them. Especially tart/pie recipes because often, buried somewhere in the midst of step three, you’ll find a random refrigeration/chilling step that you never knew existed. This will most likely occur after you’ve started to spoon tomato sauce into your tart crust that is most thoroughly unchilled. Oops.
(2) Smell the cheese that you think you are putting into your tart before you go to the grocery store to pick up the zucchini and crushed tomatoes that you most certainly did not remember to buy yesterday. In fact, smell all the cheese you have in your fridge before you go, even the back-up blue cheese that you were pretty sure couldn’t go bad or smell any weirder/worse than it already does. (It can. And will. Murphy’s law.)
Please do not skip this step especially if you are on crutches and are pretty sure that your doorman will personally barricade you in if you try to crutch it over to the store twice in twenty minutes. I know you think that screaming, “I have a crutch and I know how to use it!” is threatening. But it’s not.
(3) Thank every cheese god in existence that your roommate is crazy enough to store packages of pre-shredded mozzarella in your freezer. Curse every cheese god in existence when you realize that the frozen cheese is the slightest bit freezer-burned. Use it anyway.
(4) Realize before you put your tart into the oven that you have absolutely zero good plans as to how you are going to move it from the oven to the kitchen table once it’s all hot and steamy and done using only one hand (seeing as how the other is on crutch duty).
(5) When you don’t realize any such thing, be eternally grateful that your physical therapist spent so many hours working on balance with you back in the good old days when you could still walk with two legs. You could totally be a waitress in your next life. Boo yah.
Isn’t this going to look so purrtttyy on my holiday dinner table?
Here’s where we all shriek because it’s OCTOBER!!! We can’t be thinking about the HOLIDAYS yet!!!
Au contraire, mon ami.
It is never too early to start planning for the holidays.
(Especially when some of us are going to be the lone vegetarians in a house full of carnivores who still firmly believe that any type of poultry is not actually meat. Will they every learn?)
My family has a ton of holiday food traditions, most of which I break every year because I am an OCD food blogger who refuses to make the same recipe twice. I pretty much belong in some kind of support group.
However, there is one tradition that I’ve yet to dig my fingers into – lasagna on Christmas. Best.Present.Ever.
Unfortunately, it’s usually served after a gazillion courses of appetizers and so no one is really in the mood to eat it by the time it weasels its way out of the oven. My solution is this super light, crazy delicious lasagna tart, which has all of the flavor and essence of lasagna without all the heft. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would be crazy awesome sliced into super thin slices and served as an appetizer itself.
After all, we have to keep ourselves out of a food coma long enough to observe the other family tradition of screaming at each other (lovingly) and throwing each other out of our houses somewhere in between dinner and dessert.
Don’t worry. Everyone always returns to partake in some cannoli and rainbow cookie eating. We’ve learned after all these years when it’s best just to forgive and forget (and eat dessert).
Serves 6, adapted from 101 Cookbooks
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into very thin coins
- 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 2 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- scant 1/2 cup cold water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- scant 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella
- grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375 and place a rack in the middle. Grease a 10-inch tart pan and set aside.
- Toss the sliced zucchini with the salt in a medium bowl. Transfer the zucchini to a colander. Place in the sink and let it drain while you make the tart crust and tomato sauce.
- To make the tart shell, combine the flour, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the flour and stir that in as well. Drizzle the cold water over the flour mixture and mix with a fork or your hands just until it is absorbed. Knead once or twice, just until the dough comes together into a ball. Place the dough ball between two pieces of wax paper and, using a rolling pin, roll out into a 13-inch circle. Ease the pastry into your tart pan, filling in the corners and stretching it up the sides. Cut off any excess dough. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- When the tart dough is done resting, prick with a fork a few times. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill the tart with pie weights or a pound of dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper and beans/weights (reserve the beans for pie weight use in the future!) and bake uncovered for 5 minutes so the tart crisps up. Transfer to a rack to cool. Turn oven down to 350.
- To make the sauce, stir the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes over medium-high heat for a few seconds or until garlic becomes fragrant. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Sprinkle half of the mozzarella across the base of the tart shell. Spoon about half the sauce over the mozzarella. Arrange half the zucchini in a single layer on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over this. Top with more zucchini and then more tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the tart is cooked through. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.