Monday, December 08, 2008

Savory Carrot and Tarragon Tart...

I picked up some carrots when we went out to the market this last weekend and I apparently overlooked the bunch we already had hiding behind some grapes in the refrigerator. While I had intended another recipe for tonight, I changed things around so I could make this Savory Carrot and Tarragon Tart instead to use up some of those extra orange roots.

A wheat-y crust, threaded with leaves of fresh licorice-flavored tarragon leaves, is prepared and pressed into one of those handy tart pans with a removable bottom. A food processor makes this crust a snap to prepare and the best part, no rolling! This is one of the crumbly doughs that you just need to scatter into the pan and use your fingers to smooth it across the bottom and up the sides.

While the naked crust goes into the oven for a few minutes to set, the filling we eventually pour on top is started by softening thin slices of red onion in a pool of heated extra-virgin olive oil. When the onion was limp and soft, a hearty mound of grated carrots is stirred in along with a shot of dry sherry. If you don't keep sherry on hand, swap that out for an equal amount of rice vinegar for this tart.

Before arranging the shredded filling onto the crust, we smeared a thin layer of Dijon mustard over the bottom of the crust for a tangy bite. A sprinkling of white Cheddar is added next, followed by scattering over the generous carrot mixture. To bind all of those ingredients together, a combination of milk, plain yogurt, a couple eggs, another shot of sherry and a bit more fresh tarragon (to tie in with the flavoring lingering in crust) are whisked together and drizzled all over the top. While the yogurt added some body, the mixture was still thin enough that it wiggled its way down through the web of carrots, spreading itself out evenly. We baked this just long enough so the edges of the filling were lightly golden and the center was firm - a thin knife inserted in the center should come out mostly clean. You'll want to set this aside and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing into the tart so the filling can finish setting up.

Serve warm, or if desired, make this tart ahead of time and serve it chilled - allowing it to sit around in the refrigerator would definitely allow the character to develop even more. I loved the contrast between the crumbly, but tender crust, and the soft-set filling - it had a delicate sweetness from the carrots and onions, while the eggs and tarragon marched their savory tunes throughout the filling. I'm also wondering if this would work well prepared in a square pan and cut into little rectangles or punched into circles with a biscuit cutter to pass around as a bite-sized appetizer!