It seems like mere moments ago I was in Los Angeles, still eating perfectly ripe tomatoes just picked from the vine along with persimmon so sweet they could be sliced against a thumb with juice running down your arm. Last week in Marfa, nothing was more seasonably appropriate than an ice cold Topo Chico and a soft-serve cone enjoyed in a tank top on the patio. Maybe understandably then, here at home in Boulder it’s been hard for me to give in to the coming of fall and the impending arrival of the holidays. Popping up at the Rapha Clubhouse in Boulder this week with some healthy holiday dishes to share was a perfect way to shift my focus and to share some easy cooking and celebrating tips with curious friends (and to get my mind moving in a more comforting, cool-weather direction.) Among my best suggestions:
Banish packaged and pre-prepared products. Fill your pantry with real, whole foods instead.
Make the time to cook from scratch. It feeds your soul in a way that translates to your belly.
Eat intuitively. Ask yourself at this time of year (and always!) what you’re REALLY hungry for.
I do have one exception to this first rule: This Carrot + Ricotta Tart. No matter what the time of year, I favor simple, delicious dishes that are satisfying and beautiful at the same time and this tart has long been a favorite of mine when you need something impressive, delicious and impossibly easy on the table. And while I do absolutely avoid packaged products at all costs, there are occasions where using well sourced ones is tremendously helpful without being terribly costly for your wallet or well-being. Here, I use a high-quality, store-bought all-butter puff pastry found in the freezer case of my favorite well-stocked grocery store, and I suggest that you do the same! (Though, you could make your own tart crust and bake it if you prefer.)
The steps here are beyond easy; you’ll just need a bit of forethought to thaw the puff-pastry before using it, but otherwise, it comes together in a snap. I like using multi-colored carrots, too, to keep the colors so vibrant! When sautéing the carrots, its important that you use a pan large enough to give them some space, or that you sauté them in batches; you want them to get just a touch of golden brown on the edges and if they’re crowded they’ll steam instead of brown!
I’ve adapted the recipe over the years (originally found in the April 2015 issue of Bon Appétit,) I’ve certainly used this same recipe as an inspiration for flat breads done on the grill using pizza dough in the spring and summer, and have even mixed up the vegetables on top as a variation to keep it fresh and in tune with what I had on hand.
Lastly, you can absolutely make this tart up to 6 hours ahead of serving. Longer than that and the puff pastry really starts to be less flaky and fabulous. Just store it tightly wrapped at room temperature, then warm it up in the oven for a few moments (if you like it warm – its terrific at room temperature!)
Make it your own! And enjoy!
- 2 cups ricotta
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 large multi-colored carrots (about 8 ounces), scrubbed, thinly sliced into coins
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives or green onions
- 2 tablespoons small dill sprigs
- Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk ricotta and cream in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook, tossing occasionally, until they're just starting to brown; season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Lightly roll out pastry on parchment paper just to smooth out creases. Transfer on paper to a baking sheet. Lightly score a 1" border around pastry. Brush with egg; bake until golden and slightly puffed, 10–15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and spread ricotta mixture over pastry, staying within border. Scatter reserved onion and carrots over top. Bake until carrots are tender, onion is starting to caramelize, and pastry is golden brown and baked through, 30–35 minutes. Let cool.
- Just before serving, toss herbs and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Scatter over tart.