This savory tart, adapted from food writer Anna Jones’ new vegetarian cookbook, “The Modern Cook’s Year” (Abrams, 2019), suits any shade of spring. Store-bought puff pastry is topped with mustard-spiked creme fraiche, swirls of zucchini, custardy eggs and an abundance of fresh greens.
A colorful mess of textures and temperatures, it embodies the seasonal shift into spring.
Thanks to a foundation of store-bought puff pastry, this tart is also fairly easy, ideal for a low-fuss Easter brunch.
Jones’ book exemplifies seasonal cooking, though it flirts with fastidiousness. Her original recipe calls for shelling fresh fava beans; this adaptation swaps in frozen peas.
Too often, baking whole eggs results in overcooking, but if you arrange slabs of zucchini into deep nests on the puff pastry and nestle the eggs inside, the zucchini will slowly steam the eggs until they’re creamy — and provide a buffer on timing.
You can cook the puff pastry and vegetables ahead of time, assemble and chill, then plop the eggs into their nooks just before baking.
If you’d like, lose the mustard and creme fraiche and use mascarpone, garlicky Boursin cheese or even softened cream cheese instead. To serve a crowd, bypass the eggs; add some cooked asparagus, fennel or other seasonal vegetables; and drape with prosciutto or smoked salmon.
Garnish with whatever herbs are kicking around in your crisper and fistfuls of barely dressed arugula or other greens.
The takeaway is simple: Shift with the seasons, and spring cooking feels sunny and effortless.
>> Key ingredient: When buying puff pastry, check the ingredient list. Real butter in the pastry dough bakes up richer in flavor. Less expensive brands use oil instead; they will work fine, but won’t taste as good.
ZUCCHINI AND EGG TART WITH FRESH HERBS
By Alexa Weibel, New York Times
- 5 large eggs, divided
- 1 (14-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 2 medium zucchini (6 to 7 ounces each), sliced lengthwise into 6 slabs, each about 1/4-inch thick
- 8 scallions, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup creme fraiche or mascarpone
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
- Any combination of fresh tarragon, small parsley or dill sprigs, and chopped chives, for garnish
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Beat 1 egg in small bowl for egg wash; set aside.
Unfold puff pastry on inverted baking sheet and lay it out flat. Cut into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle, rolling out and trimming excess as needed.
Slice a 3/4-inch strip from each of the 4 sides of the pastry. Brush remaining pastry with egg wash, then prick every few inches of surface with a fork to prevent puffing. Place pastry strips along edge of all 4 sides to form a raised border, gently pressing to seal. Trim excess and brush border with egg wash.
On a second baking sheet, gently toss zucchini and scallions with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Transfer both baking sheets to oven (the sheet holding the puff pastry should still be inverted) and bake. Remove vegetables when softened, about 10 minutes. Bake pastry until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Press pastry’s puffed center gently with fingertips to deflate.
Stir creme fraiche, mustard and lemon zest together in small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Brush mixture over pastry.
Halve zucchini pieces crosswise at an angle. Arrange zucchini and scallions over pastry, draping zucchini on its side and reinforcing with scallions to create four circular nests to hold the eggs.
Crack an egg into a small cup, then transfer to a nest in the puff pastry. Repeat with remaining eggs.
In a small bowl, toss peas with remaining 1 teaspoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle tart with peas, avoiding the eggs. Bake until egg whites are opaque and custardy and yolks are still runny, about 20 minutes. Season eggs with salt and pepper; top with torn fresh herbs.
Cut tart into quarters; serve immediately. Serves 4.
Nutritional information unavailable.