Smokey Potato Leek Soup ala Sickly Baba!

Ever since I started making my own soups, I have a hard time with any type of canned soup. (This is mainly because the stuff in the cans is so full of sodium and fat and yet it still tastes bland to me.)Today I made a Smokey potato-leek soup that turned out really well. Here is the recipe.

I am on my second go around with sickness. Thankfully, it’s just a virus, and I’m feeling better today, yet I am still not really into eating anything but mild food. That being said, after having not eaten a thing but saltines yesterday, this morning I woke up feeling hungry for chicken noodle soup. Ordinarily, I would have made my own, but I’m sick, remember? Charlie pulled out a can of chunky chicken noodle and lovingly made it for me. (He takes such good care of me even when I’m not sick. I am Blessed!) I was happy to eat it (and that it stayed down), but it reminded me of why I like to make my own soups. It was borderline tasteless, brimming with sodium and fat and the noodles tasted like rubber.

Now I don’t know what to think of myself. Have I become a food snob? I used to love chunky chicken noodle soup!

This afternoon while Charlie was at the gym, I reached that stage of illness where you are really still too sick and weak to do much; yet you are so bored, your brain tells you it’s okay to get up and go make a pot of homemade soup. (After all, it’s not that hard.) I have a butternut squash sitting on the counter waiting to be cut up and roasted and turned into a beautiful, creamy soup, but instead I focused my attention on the ever present leeks in my fridge. I pulled them out, cut them up and threw them into a bowl of cold water to be certain there was no sand. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped about two and a half pounds of russet potatoes. (Why? Because if I didn’t, they were bound to start sprouting any day. We don’t eat a ton of russets.) It bears reporting that I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes in soups, but this is what I had on hand. Use what you have on hand, people!

Next, the leeks got drained, dried; then sautéed in some olive oil and butter for just a short time. Afterward, I added the potatoes, seasonings, and then six cups of chicken stock. The top went on and I let it boil for about thirty minutes-until everything was soft enough to blend.

At this point I was feeling accomplished and it dawned on me that we had a pound of bacon that also needed to be used before it was wasted. What better thing to do then to make some bacon as a garnish, right? I always make my bacon on a sheet pan with a rack, so this too, is really easy to do. I was just about to lay the stuff out in strips when I remembered having seen one of those Facebook videos that showed bacon being weaved together so it would form a perfect square for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. OMG! Genius! I just happened to have a big juicy tomato on the counter and some lettuce in the fridge. Poof! Done! I weaved that bacon like a professional bacon weaver and into the oven it went.

I was so proud when it came out looking pretty! (Seriously, I was envisioning the Instagram praise-fest about to happen! I am a sick girl and not in a good way.) I decided to take some of the smaller pieces of cooked bacon and drop them into the the soup for a little more Smokey flavor. See them?

Truth to be told: I did all of this today…but I made frequent trips to the couch to pass out, drink ice water, take my temperature, cough, etc. See that last soup photo? It’s not even hot. I just forgot to take the money shot so I fudged it. Now I am back, dying on the couch, but this blog is scheduled to go. LOL! (I really did love this soup, however.)

This photo below; now that’s actually hot soup! LOL!


Ingredients:

2.5 pounds potatoes peeled and cut (I used russets but Yukon golds are better.)

3 large leaks sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (REAL butter)

6 cups low sodium chicken broth (that’s two 32 oz cartons)

1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon raw honey

2 pieces of cooked bacon crumbled

1/4 cup cream

3 tablespoons full fat sour cream

Juice of half a lemon

Salt & fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1) Clean and slice leeks

2) Peel and cut potatoes (If you use Yukon Gold, skip peeling. It isn’t necessary.)

3) Heat olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven (medium high heat) Sauté leeks for about five minutes. Salt & pepper.

4) Add potatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, more cracked pepper. Stir.

5) Add chicken broth and bacon pieces. Turn up heat, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and put the lid on. Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to be blended.

6) When the vegetables are tender, turn off heat, remove bay leaves, stir in honey and allow to cool with the lid on about 30 minutes.

7) Pull out and mash (or rough chop) about a cup of the potatoes. Set aside.

8) Add cream and sour cream. Stir. Then blend with an immersion blender (This is what I use.) Add the reserved potatoes back in with the juice of half a lemon.

9) Taste. We like our soup spicy, so I usually add more cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.

10) Stir and cover. Turn the heat back onto low. Let the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Note: The best garnish in the world for this soup are caramelized onions! Also great: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions


PS- I ended up making a grilled cheese sandwich with the bacon lattice for Charlie. (By the time he came home from the gym, I was way too tired and over-extended to make TWO. I didn’t need a sandwich. I needed to be in bed.)

I present the Cha-Cha approved bacon, tomato, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese on Sourdough bread grilled cheese:

What’s that? Eggplant Disguised as BACON?

Let it be known that I have always hated eggplant. I made this recipe and I can now say that I was wrong. There is ONE way I’ll eat it and this is when it’s disguised as bacon! This stuff is great. Here’s how easy it is to make!

This will be short and sweet.

Make this. You will be shocked over how great it is!

The End.

PS- You’re welcome

Slice up the eggplant, paint the sauce on both sides and bake! How much easier can it be?


Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. Hot sauce

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: Some people use maple syrup in this recipe. I really do not use a lot of sweet in my recipes so I left it out. If you want it, however, use 1/4 teaspoon.

Directions:

1 Preheat oven to 400°.

2 Slice eggplant lengthwise into just shy of quarter inch thick strips. Cut off the skin. (It’s easier than peeling ahead of time)

3 In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, smoked paprika, and liquid smoke. (Maple syrup optional)

4 Place eggplant slices onto a baking sheet and brush both sides with sauce. Season with cracked pepper.

5 Bake until eggplant is cooked through and beginning to get crisp, 35 – 40 minutes.

Enjoy!

See ya tomorrow!

Stuff Your Face with THIS! Spaghetti Squash.

This is the only stuffed spaghetti squash recipe I’ve ever loved so much that I will make again. You’re welcome.

I am not really one who likes to get crazy with my vegetables, especially spaghetti squash. I’ve tried it in place of spaghetti with red sauce and I was underwhelmed. My favorite way to make it is to simply roast it with butter, salt, pepper and a bit of garlic. Occasionally I might mix in some steamed vegetables, but by and large I am a Plain Jane Spaghetti squash girl.

The other day I was watching the Food Network (Surprising, I know.) and on “The Kitchen”, Katie Lee made a spaghetti squash stuffed with chicken and steamed broccoli in a lightened version of Alfredo Sauce. (If you want to look up her recipe it’s called: “Chicken and Broccoli Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash”). It looked really good and since I happened to have a very small squash sitting on my counter, I decided to test my own version.

Let it be said here that I am a full fat, real butter, no fake stuff cook, so I knew immediately that I would not be making a lightened version of Alfredo sauce. I also hate sauces made with any type of cream cheese. No. Instead, I would make my tried and true sauce and perhaps not use a ton of it so as not to over power the delicate squash. I also didn’t like the idea of adding chicken to it. (Of course, that might have been because I knew I had two chicken breasts already pounded into cutlets that I intended to pan fry.)

The first step is to cut the squash in half. I keep seeing people say that it’s so hard to cut a squash and that it’s easier to microwave them first. Nope. I hate the microwave and with a sharp knife, it’s NOT hard to cut a squash. While I am on the subject of cutting squash, let me just say here that it’s NOT hard to work with butternut squash either. Just use a vegetable peeler (the kind you  peel carrots with) to remove the skin, then cut it up. It’s simple!

I digress. Cut the squash in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little garlic. I also used some beautiful Bourbon smoked paprika because it’s one of my new favorite spices, but that is optional. Here is what they look like before they get turned upside down to roast.

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Preheat the oven to 400, turn them cut side down, and bake them for 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure they are fork tender and the strands easily flake out with a fork. Be careful with the shells because they are going to become the vessel for this dish.

While the shells are cooking, cut up a head of broccoli and steam it until it’s bright green and a little tender. It’s okay to under cook it a bit because it’s going to go back into the oven later.

Then make the Alfredo sauce and combine it with the broccoli and spaghetti squash. Stuff all of it right back into the shells.

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At this point, I sprinkled mine with some more pepper and paprika. I honestly could have put these right in the oven under the broiler without adding anything else and I think they would have been fantastic. Instead, I added a layer of cheese.

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I grated what I had on hand which was Fontina and Parmesan. You can substitute whatever white cheese you have or like. Then they go under the broiler until brown and bubbly.

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I don’t really know how anyone eats an entire half of one of these. Honestly. I put mine on the plate thinking it was so small, it would be gone in a flash, but I could only finish half of it. Hubs and I put hot sauce on just about everything, so that is what you see on top of it with some chopped parsley to garnish.

We’re also addicted to those tomatoes which is why you always see them in my photos. Seriously, they are that delicious. They are called “Flavor Bomb Cherry Tomatoes”. We buy them at Sam’s Club, but I’m sure you can google them and find where they are in your area. So good! (and no they didn’t pay me to say this.)

Flavor Bomb Cherry tomatoes

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • 1 head of broccoli cut up into florets
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 stick of butter (REAL butter!)
  • 2 & 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina (Use Mozzarella if you like it better)
  • 2 teaspoons smoky paprika (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated garlic

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, carefully cut the squash in half horizontally. Scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the inside with olive oil, salt & pepper, granulated garlic and smoky paprika (optional). Place in a baking dish or on a baking sheet cut side down. Roast for 45 minute to an hour until fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a bowl and prepare an ice water bath. Blanch the broccoli briefly in the boiling water, then transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside.

With a large fork, pull the squash fibers away from the outer peel (use a towel to hold the squash in place if necessary). Reserve the squash and the shells. (Shell will be your cooking vessel.)

Preheat the broiler to low.

Make the Alfredo sauce. (I will look away if you want to use your favorite jarred Alfredo but honestly, it’s so easy and tastes so much better to use your own!) Here is how:

In a saucepan, warm the butter and cream. Add the smashed garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Parmesan and stir until melted. (What the WHAT! That was SO HARD!)

Now toss the broccoli and squash with the sauce. Add in some more pepper. Divide the mixture into the two empty shells and top with grated cheese.

Place the stuffed squash onto a baking sheet and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Keep watch after about 3 minutes. I left mine in about five minutes, but your broiler might be stronger than mine.


See ya tomorrow!

 

Sexy Zucchini Leek Pie drives my husband wild!

I confess. I am a reformed recipe hoarder/waster.

I used to go through my favorite foodie magazines ripping out recipes I fully intend to try, only to have them get thrown into my kitchen “drawer of death”, resurfacing years later to be thrown straight into the recycle bin. Thanks to the Internet, if I see something I love and want to make later, I usually just google it later.

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I confess. I am a reformed recipe hoarder/waster.

I used to go through my favorite foodie magazines ripping out recipes I fully intend to try, only to have them get thrown into my kitchen “drawer of death”, resurfacing years later to be thrown straight into the recycle bin. Now, thanks to the Internet, if I see something I love and want to make later, I usually just google it until I find it.

The following recipe was adapted  from one of the only recipes that I purposely stuck to my refrigerator door so that I would see it every day and be shamed into making it! The original (Zucchini pie) recipe was torn from the pages of Cooking Light Magazine (August, 2017 edition). Their pie photo was so beautiful, (google it), I had to save it! Last week while trying to decide on dinner,that photo grew arms and started waving a white flag in my face. Okay, Okay, it was time! I had all of the ingredients in the fridge to make something similar, so I adapted it to make “Zucchini Leek Pie”.

The first step is to set your spiralizer on the “thick” setting and go to town on a couple pounds (I used a little less) of unpeeled zucchini. Then you place your spirals on paper towels with some salt and let them stand for 30 minutes. This is to let them sweat out their liquid. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you should get one. They are so fun to experiment with and you don’t need to spend a ton of money. Ours came from the “As seen on TV” section at Walgreen’s. (I think we paid $9.99 for it.) We have discussed buying a fancy version, but we aren’t making zucchini spirals with any regularity, so the little one works well for us.

spiralizer

When I opened our fridge I spied two cleaned and prepped leeks that had been in there a while. Not wanting to waste them, I decided to cut them up and use them in the pie. I also subbed in freshly chopped chives, basil and garlic.  Their recipe called for just the tomatoes, garlic and fresh oregano to be wilted in the pan. I didn’t have oregano, so I left it out. (When I do this dish again, I will skip this step with the tomatoes. I don’t think it’s necessary.)

Here you have the beautiful tomatoes halfed, chopped leeks, chopped fresh garlic, chives, basil, salt and pepper in just a wee bit of olive oil. Pretty colors!

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Once the leeks were cooked to my satisfaction, I turned off the heat and let the mixture cool a little bit. Meanwhile I blotted the zucchini with more paper towels until it felt dry, then put it in a kitchen towel and squeezed it as hard as I could. Once you’ve extracted as much moisture as possible, transfer it to a bowl. If you have never made zucchini spirals, you might not realize that the strands are very very long. I used kitchen scissors to cut them up so they would be more manageable.

Whisk the remaining ingredients, then add the vegetables and stir. (Sorry, no photo of this part.) The whole shebang goes into a spring form pan to bake. When it’s finished, it gets turned out upside down and it looks LOVELY!

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large leeks, carefully cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) optional
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

1) Using the large holes of a spiralizer, cut zucchini into noodles. Place zucchini on a bed of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes.

2) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add tomatoes, leeks, garlic, chives and basil; cook, stirring often, until the leeks are soft and the tomatoes are wilted. Remove from heat and allow this to cool. (Remember, you will be adding it to an egg mixture so it needs to be close to room temp.)

3) Preheat oven to 375°F. Place half of zucchini noodles on a clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel around zucchini; twist and squeeze until all liquid is extracted. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Cut zucchini into manageable lengths.

4) Whisk eggs in a large bowl until lightly beaten. Whisk in milk, flour, hot sauce, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add tomato mixture, cheeses, and zucchini and stir to combine (kind of gently as you want to combine everything but not destroy the integrity of the vegetables.)

5) Wrap bottom plate of a 9-inch spring form pan tightly with foil. Assemble pan; coat bottom and sides with cooking spray. Pour egg mixture into pan. Bake at 375 degrees until set in the middle. Check it at 50 minutes. Mine took 60. Important step:  Make sure to let it cool for at least 15 minutes. Carefully remove the sides of the pan. Place your serving platter on top and invert. Then remove the bottom and garnish.

6) Watch your family swoon. I really love sour cream so I garnished mine with that, but you can do anything you like or nothing at all.

NOTE: This pie is NOT good re-heated in the microwave. The morning after I made this we got up thinking it would be great for breakfast. We nuked two pieces and both agreed that it tasted bitter. Best to put it in the oven covered (at 250 degrees) and let it heat up slowly and evenly for about 15-20 minutes.

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PS- Tomorrow we’ll talk about stuffing spaghetti squash with broccoli Alfredo (Not to be confused with Charlie Alfredo, below.)

Charlie Tortellini

Chicken & Toasted Orzo with Spinach, Tomatoes & Goat Cheese!

For times that I feel uninspired I turn to my cookbooks to get the creative juices flowing. I adore the “America’s Test Kitchen” cookbooks. This recipe is adapted from one of theirs. Delish!

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I am a huge fan of America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks! They are beautifully illustrated and I love that each recipe starts with a forward that says, “Why This Recipe Works”. Lately I have been cooking so much that often, when it comes time to decide what’s for dinner, I am drawing blanks. Thankfully, these cookbooks live in my kitchen, so it’s easy to pop one open and find some inspiration. This recipe is adapted from their recipe entitled: “Chicken and Orzo with Spinach and Feta“. It’s from their cookbook: America’s Test Kitchen Cooking For Two.

After I refreshed my memory of the recipe, I decided to get completely organized before starting to cook. It’s much easier when the ingredients are all prepped and ready to go. I began by running out to my herb garden to get some fresh oregano. While I was there I noticed my sage plant is growing like crazy, so I picked a bit of that and I also snagged some baby kale. I wish I could take credit for growing those beautiful little tomatoes, but they came from Sam’s Club as did the baby spinach/kale mixture.

I removed the stems from the spinach (I hate stems), chopped my garlic and herbs, then measured out the red pepper flakes, the amount of orzo and the amount of chicken stock I would need.

The first step is to put the raw orzo into a skillet and toast it until it’s a little brown. Don’t skip this step because it really imparts a great flavor and a little bit better texture.

Then in the same skillet, I sauteed my chicken tenders in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and some granulated garlic. Not very interesting. It’s just chicken! LOL.

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Once the chicken has browned on both sides and is barely cooked through, you remove it to another pan and then add in your stock and orzo. I put the stock in first to deglaze the pan. The recipe doesn’t actually call for tomatoes, but we like them so I added some in to let them cook with the orzo. Once you get it to a boil, you add the chicken back in, nestling it in the orzo until it’s cooked through. Since I used chicken tenders, it only took a few minutes. If you use breasts, it would be longer.

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Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it again, to a plate tented with foil. Continue to cook the orzo until al dente, then start adding the spinach in small batches, stirring pretty continuously. I kept extra stock handy in case I needed it and I did need to add about a half cup before the orzo came together the way I wanted. The recipe calls for the juice of a lemon. I added the zest of a lemon and the juice and the taste was bumped up considerably!

Lastly, I removed it all, placed it in my serving dish, added the chicken and topped it with crumbled goat cheese and fresh oregano leaves…and of course, my beautiful tomatoes!

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Winner winner, chicken dinner!


 

(Adapted from an original recipe from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients:

3/4 c. orzo
2 T olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh minced oregano
1 tsp fresh minced sage
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 1/2 c chicken broth (more if needed)
12-15 cherry tomatoes
4 cups baby spinach
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from one lemon
Fresh oregano leaves for garnish (You could use basil or flat leafed parsley if you don’t have fresh oregano)

Directions:

  1. Toast the orzo in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat (just until brown, stirring often.) Remove from skillet.
  2. Using the same skillet, saute chicken in olive oil until brown and just barely cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  3. Toss herbs and garlic into the same skillet, let it bloom 30-40 seconds
  4. Add in chicken broth. tomatoes and orzo, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, add back the chicken and cover until chicken is cooked through. (10-15 minutes if using tenders, 15-19 minutes if breasts) Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
  5. Continue simmering the orzo, stirring and adding more stock.
  6. Add in the lemon juice and zest. Season with more pepper and a little salt.
  7. Add in the spinach, one handful at a time, continuously stirring.
  8. Once your spinach has wilted and the orzo is cooked through, transfer it to a serving platter. Nestle the chicken into the orzo, garnish with crumbled goat cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs.

 

 

 

Oh You’re SUCH a TART! Tomato Tarts!

A little while back I catered a Birthday party and was asked to be sure and include a vegetarian option. My mind immediately went to these tarts because they are so beautiful (and fun to prepare!).

A little while back I catered a Birthday party and was asked to be sure and include a vegetarian option. My mind immediately went to these tarts because they are so beautiful (and fun to prepare!). I started researching recipes which resulted in a LOT of tarts being made and sampled! In the end, I made up my own recipe, which I will share with you!

Keep these things in mind as the Holidays approach us. They are show-stoppers at any party and the best part is they can be eaten warm, cold or even at room temperature! (Did I mention they are insanely delicious?) I didn’t really  photograph the entire process, so you will have to rely on the recipe and the instructions at the bottom of the page.

I think there are two stand-out, must-do things when you are making tarts.

  1. Slice your vegetables very thinly, sprinkle them with salt and allow them to hang out on a rack for at least 30 minutes before you assemble. Then pat them with paper towels. You want them as dry as possible.
  2. Pre-bake your crusts. I used pre-made roll out pie crust and also puff pastry. I pre-baked both to avoid soggy tarts. (More instructions on this below.)

 

See what I mean about how pretty they are? Since I was making these for a large party, I also worked on making them full sheet tray sized and they turned out beautifully as well.

 

You will probably wonder why I took the trouble to cut my fresh Mozzarella into hearts when it would melt anyway? My favorite shape is the heart and I just wanted all of the Mozzarella to be uniform. PLUS, it’s pretty, right? I like everything I make to start out from my heart and this certainly did!

 

I wasn’t kidding around when I said I made a TON of these things. Everything you see here are samples that my husband and I either ate ourselves or we gave away to the neighbors until we settled on the tastes we liked best!

 

These that were done with puffed pastry were the winners! The one on the right wasn’t intended to look like this. I was going to make the entire thing covered in veggie roses (you can see a few of them made it) but at the last minute I realized I’d sliced my vegetables too thick. Rather than flip out over it, I made it into an abstract design. I loved it and my clients did, too.  The one of the left was also just delightful; simple zucchini and tomatoes.


Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 whole Large Onions, Halved And Sliced Thin
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 whole prepared Pie Crusts (or 1 Good Sized Homemade Crust) **
  • 1-1/2 cup Grated Fontina Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup full fat ricotta cheese (I didn’t say this was low cal!)
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes (I always look for the ones that come in all colors), Washed And Dried (more If Needed) I keep most of them whole but slice some in half if you want to have fun with your design.
  • 6 Roma Tomatoes sliced as thin as possible.(more if needed)
  • 4 Zucchini sliced as thin as possible.
  • 20 whole Basil Leaves, Chiffonade (more if needed)
  • Zest of one or two lemons.
  • a teeny tiny couple of pinches of nutmeg

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter, onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and deep golden brown. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.
After you’ve sliced your veggies, lay them out on paper towel and sprinkle them with salt. Let them sit there at LEAST 30 minutes. After that, blot them dry with paper towels and set aside.

Put both pie crusts together and squish into a ball, knead it to combine them, then roll into one large, thin crust. (Trust me. I tried to use both crusts separate and then pinch them together and it just doesn’t work as well.) Lay onto a shallow quarter sheet pan, a tart pan, or cut in half and use 2 standard pie pans. Add the lemon zest and tiny bit of nutmeg to the cheeses and then sprinkle on in a single layer, then lay on the caramelized onions, then arrange your vegetables in whatever design you like over the cheese.

Bake the tart for 15 to 18 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the crust doesn’t burn. (The tomatoes should be starting to burst apart, with some dark/roasted areas on the skin, and the crust should be deep golden brown.) If the crust is getting brown too fast, reduce the heat to 425 F. Or cover it with foil.

Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the basil all over the top. Cut into squares and serve!

** You can use puffed pastry in place of the pie crust; just be sure to pre-bake it. You will need to use a piece of parchment paper cut to leave about an inch of crust. Then use some dried beans or pie weights so the pastry will not puff up where you want to build the tart.