Servings: 8 servings
1 tart shell
1 cup leek
(green part only), diced
1 red bell pepper
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
¼ cup pine nuts, slightly toasted
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 small zucchini, trimmed and sliced
1 crook neck squash, trimmed and sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
1 bunch sweet basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Roasting the bell pepper: Wash and dry the bell pepper. Pat dry, then brush with a little olive oil. Place a grill pan on your stovetop over high heat. Once hot, char all the skin of the bell pepper, turning to char the entire pepper evenly. Wrap the hot pepper in aluminum foil; let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running water and the skin will come right off. Seed and thinly slice it; set aside until needed.
For the tart shell: Make sure the puff pastry dough is thawed but still cold so it's easy to roll out. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 13-inch disk. Place the dough in 1 loose-bottomed, non-stick 11-inch tart mold lined with parchment paper; following the curve of the mold, crimp the dough against the edge. Gently press the dough with your fingers so there are no air bubbles. Leave a little excess above the edge because the dough will settle a bit in the oven. Prick the dough with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Line the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and top with ceramic pie weights (dried beans work well too). Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 12-14 minutes. Remove the pie weights and discard the pieces of parchment paper. Bake for another 2-3 minutes so the pie crust can dry. Remove from the heat and let the dough cool a little down. Set aside.
For the basil: Wash the basil. Drain thoroughly and pat dry on paper towels. Coarsely chop the basil.
Making mascarpone cheese filling:
In a large, non-stick pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and cook until they are shiny, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning. Season with salt. Cook until golden (about 5-7 minutes). Adjust seasoning. Add black pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
In a blender (or a mini-food prep if you have one), combine the leeks, toasted pine nuts, 4 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper. You could add up to 4 tablespoons of waterfor a smooth flow. Add half the amount of the roasted bell pepper, basil leaves and the mascarpone cheese.
Cooking the vegetables:
Trim and slice the zucchini and squash. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the same pan if necessary. Add the zucchini and squash slices. Pan-fry them until golden. Toss well and cook for about 5 minutes. Once the slices are nicely golden, lower the heat, add lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.
Fill the tart shells with the mascarpone filling. Top with the zucchini and squash slices. Finish with the remaining roasted bell pepper slices in the center, as garnish. Bake at 375°F for about 8 minutes. At the end, if necessary, to ensure the crust is golden, change the setting to broil and bake for about 2 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Serve at room temperature with a green salad.
You could also serve these as appetizers. Just line tartlet shells with the pastry dough and top with 1 to 2 slices of zucchini.
Pan-frying the zucchini slices prior to baking the tart is just a way to save some time. You can skip this step, but then it will take longer for the vegetables to become soft and tender.
When I buy leeks, I always save the white part for soups or simply steam them and serve as a salad; I cook the green fibrous part as I would use onions. You could also replace the leeks with fennel or celery.