When considering what to make for dinner these days, I’m building meals around vegetables. My peppers, chiles, and tomatoes are all producing madly. I do want to roast some of the tomatoes to stash in the freezer, but for now we’re just eating them fresh off the vine.
This tart is a balance of decadence and virtue. The puff pastry, sinfully buttery, is piled high with a rainbow of vegetables. As a nod to my meat-loving menfolk, there are a few shreds of salty prosciutto; underneath is a touch of sharp white cheddar — not enough to overwhelm the freshness of the tomatoes and broccoli, but just enough to give the tart substance.
Taking a few minutes to pre-cook the broccoli, onions, and peppers ensures that they are the perfect texture when the tart is finished. You can cook the veg while the pastry par-bakes, to save a little time. The acid of the tomatoes balances nicely with the rich crust.
The transparently thin layer of cream cheese is just enough to keep the tart from being dry. You could easily substitute parmesan for the cheddar; in fact, the second time, I used cheddar beneath the vegetables and parmesan on top. Leave off the prosciutto for a vegetarian version; try substituting calamata olives for that salty hit.
We liked this so much that we had it twice in one week, and would gladly have it again right away. I’d also cut it in small squares and serve it as a summer appetizer.
Sharp Cheddar and Summer Vegetable Tart
serves 2 for dinner, 3-4 for a light lunch
2 cups small broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed but cold
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar
2 slices prosciutto
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes until just tender. While the broccoli steams, sauté the onion and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat until just tender. When the broccoli is done, add it to the pan with the pepper. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the basil and cherry tomatoes. Set aside off heat.
Lightly roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface till it’s slightly larger. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Using a fork, prick the dough all over, leaving a 1/2-inch edge. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just barely cooked and not at all browned. Remove from the oven, but leave the heat on.
Spread the hot pastry with a very thin layer of cream cheese. Sprinkle with about 3/4 cup of the cheddar. Scatter the vegetables over the cheese, then tear the prosciutto into small pieces and add them over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheddar. Bake for another 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the cheese is melted. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.