Ina Garten’s Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

One of my friends frequently serves these tarts when entertaining with rave reviews. She describes them as “flavor bombs!” 🙂 I loved them so much, I have also served them on more than one occasion myself.

The tarts can be formed into rectangles on sheet pans, or into rounds on pizza tins. Square pieces are perfect appetizer portions. As they are a bit time consuming to prepare, the tarts can be assembled a day prior to baking and serving. To limit the amount of moisture on the crust, it is important to not to incorporate too many tomatoes.

The recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, via Food Network.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and made large tarts rather than individual tarts.

Yield: Two 12-inch tarts

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (about 3 large onions)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 6 to 8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (I used Trader Joe’s herb-goat cheese)
  • 1 pound Campari or small “on-the-vine” tomatoes (about 3 per tart), or 2 large tomatoes, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 6 tablespoons julienned basil leaves, divided
  1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 12 by 12-inch square. Fold the corners in to form a circle. Repeat with the second pastry sheet. (Alternatively, the pastry can be kept in a rectangle, lightly rolled until smooth.)
  2. Place the pastry circles on 2 pizza pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. (If using rectangles, place the pastry on 2 rimmed sheet pans lined with parchment paper.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  6. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry.
  7. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  8. Place 1/2 of the onion mixture on each tart, again staying within the scored edge.
  9. On each tart, crumble 3 to 4 ounces of goat cheese on top of the onions.
  10. Place tomato slices over each tart. Brush the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and sprinkle each with 2 T basil, salt, and pepper.
  11. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes on convection, or until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven.
  13. After removing from the oven, garnish each tart with the remaining tablespoon of basil and more grated Parmesan.
  14. Serve hot or warm.

Lee Brothers’ Pimento Cheese

My friend served delicious pimento cheese sandwiches recently- reminding me how much I enjoy them. 🙂 Eating them also reminded me that I wanted to try this version from Charleston, South Carolina.

The recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by the Lee Brothers. I used Cabot 3-year sharp cheddar cheese. I served it on the Fourth of July as a dip with crackers and pita chips. Alternatively, it could be used to fill about 4 sandwiches. Easy and fabulous.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated with a food processor or hand grater (not pre-grated)
  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese (2 ounces), pulled into several pieces
  • scant 1/2 cup jarred pimento or other roasted red peppers (from a 7-ounce jar), finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons Duke’s, Hellmann’s or other high-quality store-bought mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese in an even layer.
  2. Scatter the cream cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and chile flakes over the cheddar cheese.
  3. Using a spatula, mix the pimento cheese until it is smooth and spreadable, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Transfer the pimento cheese to a plastic container or bowl, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve as a sandwich spread or as a dip.

Note: Pimento cheese keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Seared Halloumi & Sourdough Croutons

This is a great dish to make with wonderful September tomatoes. I used a blend of my CSA tomatoes with grape as well as Campari tomatoes. It may possibly be my daughter’s (and even my husband’s!) dream salad- loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, sourdough and fried cheese?!?! It was well received. 🙂

The recipe was inspired by a Greek horiatiki salad and is also similar to an Italian panzanella. Incorporating halloumi cheese makes it hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course. This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin.

Yield: 6 to 8 as an appetizer or side, 4 to 6 as a main course

For the Croutons:

  • 1 pound slightly stale sourdough or country bread, thickly sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the Salad:

  • 4 to 5 cups cucumber chunks, preferably thin-skinned, such as Kirby or Persian
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved, or ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks (I used a blend of orange cherry, grape, and Campari tomatoes)
  • 8 to 12 ounces halloumi cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 T thinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
  • 2 to 3 T coarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar, plus more as needed

To Make the Croutons:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut each slice of bread into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear each strip into 1-inch pieces, removing the crust as you go if it is very thick.
  3. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet (or use 2 sheets, if necessary to prevent crowding). Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, 10 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet and turning the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly, and checking them every few minutes. (I baked mine for 12 minutes on convection.)
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.

To Make the Salad:

  1. In a colander in the sink, toss the cucumbers with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place a bag of ice cubes or an ice pack on top to chill and firm the cucumbers. Let drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips.
  4. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a measuring cup to steep.
  5. Pour off excess liquid from the bowl holding the tomatoes. Add drained cucumbers, red onion or scallions, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons vinegar to tomatoes and toss well.
  6. Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the extra-virgin olive oil, add the oil to tomatoes and mix well. (If desired, the salad can be made up until this point and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before proceeding.)
  7. When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
  9. Cook the halloumi: Line a plate with paper towels and lightly coat a nonstick skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high until rippling. Working in batches, cook the halloumi strips on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate to drain.
  10. Taste and add more croutons to salad as desired. (If there are too many, the salad will be starchy; too few, and it will be wet.)
  11. At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)

Sweet Summer Corn- Two Ways

I typically enjoy our amazing Long Island summer corn simply on the cob after boiling it for two minutes in salted water. No butter, no extra salt. It’s perfect. 🙂 But, I must admit that both of these dishes brought sweet corn to another level and were absolute crowd-pleasers.

The first dish, pictured above, is Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn. It was buttery and indulgent. We ate it as a side with grilled chicken. The second dish, photo below, is Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream. I served it on a separate occasion as an appetizer with tortilla chips.

The Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn Recipe is from Ina Garten’s Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks via barefoot contessa.com. The Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. The street corn had more of a spicy kick compared to the buttery chipotle corn.

Ina Garten’s Chipotle Parmesan Sweet Corn

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shallots, halved lengthwise, peeled, and thinly sliced crosswise (3 large shallots)
  • 8 cups white or yellow corn kernels (8 to 12 ears) (I used 9)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime (about 2 T)
  • 1 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Standing the cob upright inside the center of a medium to large shallow bowl, cut the corn kernels off of the cobs. (This prevents the kernels from scattering all over the counter.)
  2. Heat the butter in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.
  3. Add the corn, chipotle powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the corn to brown lightly, until the corn is tender but still firm.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and Parmesan.
  6. Taste for seasonings and transfer to a large shallow serving bowl. Serve hot.

Martha Stewart’s Mexican-Style Corn with Citrus Cream

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

  • 8 ears corn, husked and silks removed
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • pinch or two cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, or more, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or goat cheese
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the hot grill.
  2. Grill the husked corn cobs, turning occasionally, until kernels are tender and charred in spots, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, lime juice, cayenne, chili powder, and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Cut off the tips of the grilled corn cobs and stand in a wide, shallow bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs.
  5. Combine the corn kernels with the sour cream mixture.
  6. To serve, top with the crumbled goat cheese. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping, as desired.

Note: This dish can be served warm or at room temperature

Zucchini with Farro, Chickpeas & Arugula

I have a couple more zucchini recipes to share. I receive a healthy amount of zucchini in my CSA share and I enjoy finding new dishes to make with all of it. I recently roasted a zucchini or two with fresh thyme and CSA onions, then added my special CSA corn (raw), and used it as a calzone filling. Delicious!

I knew that I would really enjoy this wonderful zucchini dish because it incorporates farro and arugula- my favorites. I ate it as a main course but my husband ate it as a side with grilled chicken and roasted potatoes. Everyone was happy. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I roasted the zucchini and increased the amount of arugula. I also decreased the amount of salt and oil and used a combination of basil, predominantly, with parsley, and oregano in the finished dish.

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
  • kosher salt
  • 1 pound small zucchini (about 2 medium/small) and/or summer squash, ends trimmed
  • 4-6 T olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup soft, fragrant herbs, such basil, mint, tarragon, or a combination, roughly torn or cut
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 large handfuls of arugula
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for shaving
  1. Rinse and drain the farro and chickpeas. Add both to a medium pot with 2 large pinches of salt and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, skim foam from the top, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until farro is tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, divide your squash haul in half. With one group, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick planks. Reserve the other 1/2 pound for later.
  3. Place the zucchini planks on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 to 2 T olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a preheated 425 degree oven, roast the zucchini planks until lightly browned and tender, about 10 minutes per side. (I set my oven to convention roast.)
  5. Transfer browned zucchini to a shallow dish and, if desired, cut the planks into 2-inch pieces. (I cut mine.)
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 T olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and half the herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour about half the dressing over the zucchini and let marinate while you finish making the salad. Set remaining dressing aside.
  8. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the rest of the zucchini into ribbons (here’s the easiest way: lay the zucchini on a cutting board, then drag the peeler across it). If your farro is far from done, you can preserve the zucchini strands by soaking them in cold salt water. Drain and pat dry before using.
  9. Drain the farro and chickpeas and transfer to a large mixing bowl. (I returned mine to the pot.)
  10. Toss with the reserved dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add arugula, zucchini ribbons, marinated zucchini, lemon juice and Parmesan shavings. Gently toss to combine and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  12. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and top with the remaining herbs and more arugula and Parmesan, as desired.

Arugula Salad with Peaches, Basil, Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts

I have a quite a few summer recipes to share. 🙂  I loved this simple salad so much, I had to post it first. I’ve already made it a couple of times! It is composed of many of my seasonal favorites. Bright, fresh, creamy, crunchy and absolutely perfect.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Lidey Heuck. I used half of the dressing. I made the salad with white peach slices, but it would also be wonderful with sliced nectarines or mango. The author also suggested substituting cherries, strawberries, plums, raspberries or even cherry tomatoes. Lovely.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer or side salad

  • 1/4 cup (4 T) pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 to 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 T champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 2 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup), plus more to taste
  1. In a small sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. (I used a small cast iron skillet.) Remove from the heat.
  2. In a small liquid measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. (I used 4 T olive oil and 2 T vinegar but used about half of the dressing on the salad and reserved the remaining dressing.)
  3. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Pour just enough dressing over the greens to moisten, and toss to coat.
  4. Add the peaches, basil, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts and toss to coat.
  5. Toss gently and serve immediately.

Ottolenghi’s Zucchini “Baba Ghanoush”

I knew that I had to make this as a special appetizer after seeing it on Chef Mimi’s blog. It sounded so interesting- a baba ghanoush without eggplant or tahini, but with zucchini, yogurt, and Roquefort cheese. The charred zucchini resembled bananas when they were peeled; cooking it this way gave it smokiness.

It may not be absolutely beautiful, but it was absolutely delicious. Ottolenghi describes its appearance as “rather like a volcanic eruption.” 🙂 It was a little bit time-consuming to prepare, but was worth every bit of time and effort.

This recipe was adapted from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used French whole milk plain yogurt instead of goat’s milk yogurt and used regular chile flakes instead of Urfa chile flakes. I also crumbled the cheese rather than grating it. I definitely plan to make it again- we loved it. Incredible.

Yield: Serves 6 as a starter or as part of a mezze selection

  • 5 large zucchini (about 2.75 pounds/1.2 kg)
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 T (15 g) coarsely crumbled Roquefort cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 T (20 g) pine nuts
  • pinch of chile flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp za’atar, to finish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • warm naan, for serving
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet lined with foil and broil for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking, until the skin crisps and browns nicely.
  3. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, peel off the zucchini skin, discard it, and set the flesh aside in a colander to drain. The zucchini can be served warm or at room temperature.
  4. Put the yogurt in a small saucepan with the Roquefort and egg. Heat very gently for about 3 minutes, stirring often. You want the yogurt to heat through but not quite reach the simmering point. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan with the pine nuts over low heat and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the nuts turn golden brown. Stir in the chile flakes and lemon juice and set aside.
  6. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the garlic, a scant 1/2 tsp coarse salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mash everything together with a fork and then spread the mixture out on a large serving platter.
  7. Spoon the warm yogurt sauce on top, followed by a drizzle of the warm chile butter and the pine nuts.
  8. Finish with a sprinkle of za’atar and serve at once with warm naan.

One Year Ago: Vegetarian Harira

Two Years Ago: Mushroom Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

Three Years Ago: Orecchiette with Carrot-Hazelnut Pesto

Four Years Ago: Saffron Pappardelle with Moroccan Spiced Shallot-Butter Sauce and  Clams Casino

Five Years Ago: Israeli Couscous with Spinach & Onions

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