In 2006, The Guardian asked Yotam Ottolenghi to write a weekly column on vegetables. “The New Vegetarian” proved to be a runaway hit with readers and it spawned Ottolenghi second cookbook, the vegetarian That led to a vegetarian Plenty. It is often noted that Plenty spent a great deal of time on the England’s best-seller lists jostling with some girl with a dragon tattoo! Who knew veggies could be so scintillating.
If there is any irony to this accomplishment, it is that Ottolenghi is not a vegetarian, himself. In fact, he caused quite the stir when he boldly announced, “You can be vegetarian and eat fish.” This sent the died-in-the-wool (or should I say, the-vegetable-dyed-in-the-hemp) vegetarians into a frenzy and her later tweeted, “To all, fish eaters are NOT vegetarians!”
I feel if you are going to be a vegetarian, you should be a vegetarian that eats meat, but I digress.
Recently, Yotam Ottolenghi paid a visit to Martha Stewart, who was gaga over Plenty. He made the following tart:
Caramelized Garlic TartOn Martha, he used American measurements, but my copy is from England so you have to ask Martha for conversions.
375g all-butter puff pastry
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¾ tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
120g soft, creamy goat’s cheese
120g hard, mature goat’s cheese
2 free-range eggs
100ml double cream
100ml crème fraîche
salt and black pepper
1. Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of a 28cm, loose-bottomed tart tin, plus a little extra to hang over the edges of the tin. Line the tin with the pastry. Place a large circle of crumpled greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with baking beans. Leave the tin to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the tart case in the oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, then bake for a further 5-10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.
3. While the tart case is baking, put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover them with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch the cloves for 3 minutes, then drain well.
4. Dry the saucepan, return the garlic cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes.
5. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt to the garlic in the pan. Continue simmering over a medium heat for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.
6. To assemble the tart, crumble both types of goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter them over the bottom of the pastry case. Spoon the garlic cloves and their syrup evenly over the cheese – the deliciously caramelised garlic will try to stick together in clumps.
7. In a jug, whisk together the eggs, creams, ½ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this mixture over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese peeping through.
8. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and put the tart in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. In my oven, this took almost an hour in total. If the tart’s golden and cooked on top but still wobbly, remove it from the oven and don’t worry – it will set as it cools. Leave the tart to cool a little.
9. When you’re ready to serve, remove the tart from its tin, trimming and tidying the pastry edge if needed, lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm (but not burning hot) with a crisp salad.
Or, you could pick up your own copy, which is what we would suggest. Ottolenghi has a nifty blog and he talks about his trip to New York, so, do check it out.