Right before Snowmageddon 2009 on Sunday, I headed out to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market for my weekly provisions. Mind you, snow was already falling and it was quite chilly out, but food doesn’t buy itself and come right to your door (well, at least not quality, locally grown and raised food). Unlike most market days where I let the market offerings decide my menu for the week, I had a mission in mind this Sunday: a vegetable tart using a pate brisee dough. I wasn’t sure which vegetables I wanted to use, but I had a general idea that I wanted something green included in this dish.
Perhaps naively, I thought the snow would keep some market goers away. So imagine my surprise when there were just as many shoppers milling about the market. My first stop was Everona Dairy for one of their cheeses to top my tart. As usual, Pat Elliott (who happens to be a doctor with a thriving practice on top of her cheese making) was handing out samples of their sheep’s milk cheeses. I have truly come to enjoy my chats with Pat because she herself is quite the cook and she always has great recipe suggestions. She was giving out samples of a Rapidan spread made with the their signature Piedmont cheese. She was giving out the samples on a thin yet hearty cracker that (it turns out) she made herself. She offered to send me the recipe if I emailed her during the week. As I was plowing my way through trying a few samples, Pat told me this was Everona’s last time at the market until the end of April. I stopped mid chew and looked at her as if she’d told me she was Mrs. Claus. Sure April is right around the corner, but I’ve grown to love the cheeses from Everona. They work well in a variety of dishes, from sweet to savory and melt remarkably well. She assured me they would be back in late April as I scurried to buy up as much cheese as I could afford. It’s entirely possible she reiterated their return date because I was stocking up as if they would never return. With my market bag loaded with cheese, I thanked Pat and headed off to find my vegetables.
Walking along the market, my eyes caught sight of a beautiful bunch of baby beets stacked on a table at the Farm at Sunnyside stand, one of my favorite vegetable vendors. The baby beets were a stark contrast to the white turnips propped up beside it. Their green leaves were also a welcome sight amidst the cold and drab Winter day. I picked up a bunch, thinking they would work wonderfully on the tart roasted and sliced. I briefly toyed with the idea of using the beet greens on the tart as well, but that went away the minute I stumbled upon a lovely bunch of Swiss chard at Next Step Produce. The contrast of the deep red of the beets against the shocking green of the chard would make a beautiful tart, or at least it did in my head. As I was looking through the other bins at Next Step, I came across some beautiful red onions and decided to add them to the tart as well. With all of my vegetables in hand, I headed home to throw together what I hoped would make for a great lunch for the week.
Swiss Chard, Roasted Baby Beet and Caramelized Onion Tart
For the Pate Brisee Dough:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
¼ to ½ cup cold water
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add the cubes of cold butter and pulse until the mixture is coarse in texture. Slowly add the cold water through the food processor tube while the machine is running. Add only enough water to make the dough come together without being too sticky. Divide the dough into two balls and flatten each one into a disc. Wrap the discs in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. You will only need one of the discs for this tart, so the other disc can be frozen for use later.
For the Vegetable Tart:
2 medium red onions, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1 large bunch of baby beets, stems removed and peeled
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
4 to 6 ounces shredded cheese (any good melting cheese will work)
1 egg whisked together with a tablespoon of water for an egg wash
Grease a 14 by 4 inch rectangular tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom).
While the dough is chilling, get started on the toppings. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a square baking dish with foil and place the peeled beets in the dish. Toss with two tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until the beets are tender. Set the beets aside and allow to cool. Once the beets are cooled, cut the beets into circular slices. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet and sauté the Swiss chard for only 2-3 minutes. Remove the Swiss chard from the skillet and add the butter to the pan. Add the red onion slices and stir. Continue to consistently stir the onions, cooking until caramelized, about 15 to 25 minutes. Allow both the chard and the onions to cool completely.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to a rectangular shape that will fit into the bottom of the tart pan. Place the dough into the tart pan, removing any excessive that may come up the sides of the pan. You only want the dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Chill it for another 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Once chilled, prick the dough with a fork, brush it with the egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes (or until golden brown). Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before topping. Top with the shredded cheese first, then the carmelized onions, the Swiss chard and finally the beet slices. Return to the oven, baking for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing up the tart and serving.