I have sung the praises of cookbook author Jeanne Lemlin here before. Up until recently, I owned three of her cookbooks, all of which I love and could not do without. For Mother’s Day, my sister-in-law bought me the one that was missing from my collection. It is a fabulous addition.
I have a lot of cookbooks. A lot. Whenever I am tempted to buy a new one, I really look through the recipes. About 90% of the time, I put the book in question back because I find that the recipes are too similar to things I already have in other books. What amazes me about Lemlin is this. Here is an author whose books I use all the time. You would think there would be no reason for me to have this fourth book. And you would be wrong. (This is starting to sound a lot like my justification arguments to my husband.)
Vegetarian Classics houses 300 more recipes, many of which jump off the page. There are a few that bear a slight resemblance to earlier recipes, but most of them are quite different. As I sat looking through the book, I knew that this entire week would be devoted to this book. It has not disappointed so far.
I made these lovely tartlets for my clients Tuesday night. They were quite simple to make, looked pretty, and were delicious to eat. I love when something looks like you spent a lot of time on it when in fact it was fairly quick. These would also make a fabulous appetizer, cut in much smaller rounds and topped with a single slice of potato and a single slice of zucchini. As an added bonus, the sun-dried tomato pesto that is slathered onto the puff pastry can be used on crostini or tossed with pasta. I think making a double batch next time might be a good idea.
Individual Vegetable Tarts
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics
1 sheet (half of a 17-ounce package) frozen puff pastry
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (recipe follows)
1 large Yukon Gold potato, halved, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1. Defrost the puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Fill a saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. drop in the potato slices and cook until tneder but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain and spread out on a plate to cool.
3. Hea the oil in a large skillet until hot but not somiking. Fry the zucchini slices until golden on each side. Remove to a plate and let cool.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into an 11×11 square. Using a 5 inch cutter or inverted bowl, cut 4 disks from the pastry. Place the disks on a baking sheet and pierce all over with a fork. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the tarts. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Spread 2 tbsp. pesto on each pastry disk, leaving a 1/2 inch border. You will have some pesto left over; refrigerate for another use. Ocver the pesto with some potato slices, then cover the potatoes with zucchini slices arranged in a circle.
6. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup loose sun-dried tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parlsey
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place the tomatoes in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Cover bowl with a plate and let sit 10 minutes. Drain and cool the tomatoes.
2. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, garlic, parlsey, basil, salt, and pepper and process until finely ground. Slowly pour in the oil and process until smooth. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in the pine nuts and cheese. If you are using the pesto on pasta, stir in 1/2 cup boiling pasta water to thin it out.