Italian cuisine includes many different varieties of vegetables and they are cooked in every conceivable way. Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are popular in southern Italy and cabbage, asparagus and potatoes are more popular in the north.
Vegetable tarts are great to make for lunch or dinner. They are also good for entertaining, either as an appetizer or as a lunch entrée with a salad. Vegetable pies make a perfect vegetarian main dish for a dinner party. Just about any vegetable will work in a tart.
These pies can also be economical because you can use ingredients that you have on hand before they spoil. These recipes are easy to make and can be even easier if you do some of the preparation in advance.
I like to keep vegetable tarts healthy by using whole wheat flour and olive oil in the pastry dough and lower calorie ingredients in the tart fillings.
Italian Style Roasted Vegetable Tart
(Recipe for Olive Oil Pastry is below.)
- 2 red bell peppers
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 small onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (or your favorite cheese)
- 2 large eggs or ½ cup refrigerated egg substitute
- 3/4 cup half & half (can be fat-free) or evaporated milk
Prepare Vegetables: Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Using a small paring knife, cut around the stems of the bell peppers. Lift out stems with seeds and discard. Transfer whole peppers to a small baking dish; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast on upper rack, turning peppers occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer peppers to a small bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel peppers, then tear into strips. Set aside.
Toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Add sweet potato to the eggplant and mix gently. Continue roasting until eggplant and sweet potato are tender, 20–25 minutes longer. Set vegetables aside.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss tomatoes with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Arrange tomatoes, skin side down, on prepared sheet. Roast on the lower rack until the tomatoes are beginning to brown and are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and fennel; cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 5–6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.
Assemble Tart: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place chilled pastry lined pie pan on a baking sheet.
Scatter onion-fennel mixture over the bottom of the crust. Top with the eggplant-sweet potato mixture and roasted peppers. Scatter 1 teaspoon thyme over the mixture. Top with cheese and tomatoes.
Whisk eggs and half & half in a small bowl; season lightly with salt and pepper. Slowly pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Scatter the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme on top.
Bake tart until filling is set and pastry is golden brown, 50–60 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Easy Olive Oil Pie Crust
Pie crusts made with Olive oil have a crisp, tasty crust with no trans fats or cholesterol. No rolling needed, just mix it right in the pie plate and pat it into place. This recipe makes enough for a single deep dish crust.
- 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons water
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. This can be done right in the pie pan, if you like.
Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.
Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help you make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the edge.
Chill the pie crust until ready to add the filling.