Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Vegetable and Basil Tart With Prosciutto

Recently, I bought a cookbook called Pork and Sons, by Stéphane Reynaud. Stéphane lovingly and respectfully approaches the pig in manner that is very rare these days: his recipes transform every conceivable part of the animal in the creation of his traditional French cuisine, sometimes carefully slow-cooking for 4 or 5 days. He writes with a clever sense of humor to introduce his family and neighbors, all smiling wine-drinkers who share in the yearly porcine traditions of Saint-Égrève, a small village in the French Alps. The beautifully bound book is filled with old photographs that evoke a nostalgic sense of "home" (not unlike an old photo album), and illustrations of mischievous cartoon piggies run around the pages.

Last night I made my first recipe from Pork and Sons: "Vegetable and Basil Tart With Prosciutto". It was delicious, even though I used ham instead of Prosciutto, spinach instead of basil, and accidentally bought one of those funny Italian cucumbers that looks like a zucchini. I nearly replaced the puff-pastry dough with pizza dough, but decided against it. Perhaps I'll make this as a pizza next time. Of course, I also plan to make it properly:

--7 tbsp Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
--2 Onions, sliced
--1 Eggplant, sliced
--2 Zucchini, sliced
--12 oz Puff Pastry Dough, thawed if frozen
--All-Purpose Flour, for dusting
--6-8 Cherry Tomatoes (I used many more than this)
--4 slices of Dry-Cured Ham such as Prosciutto or Toulouse Ham, cut into strips
--1 bunch Fresh Basil
--Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally until very soft but not colored (10-15 minutes). In another pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the eggplant and zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender crisp. Roll out the dough to a round on a lightly floured surface, then transfer to a cookie sheet. Cover the dough round with the softened onions, then the eggplant and zucchini. Add the cherry tomatoes and strips of ham. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in oven for 30 minutes (it took longer for me!). Toward the end of cooking time, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet, add the basil leaves and fry for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, sprinkle them over the tart and serve immediately.

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