Yield: 6-4.5 inch tarts
Our farmer’s market still has local eggplant, and I hope yours does, because you will not want to wait until next summer to savor these simply beautiful and delicious tarts. They were another of my contributions to our annual Julia Child Birthday Bash in August. Everyone loved them and I’m sure Julia herself would have approved!
The recipe is one I adapted from TheFoodDiaries.com. It calls for either spreading the cooked shells with mustard or pesto. I didn’t read it carefully and used both and LOVED it: Different, but subtle, and not weird at all. The mustard provides a nice little unexpected zing. I hope you agree!
1 recipe Press-In Tart crust (recipe follows)
1 recipe Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (recipe Follows)
1 approximately 12-inch long Japanese eggplant, cut into 24 1/4-inch slices, oiled and baked on an oiled baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until softened
2 tablespoons Dijon or stone-ground mustard
2 generous tablespoons vegan pesto (homemade, preferred)
Pinch sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garnish: 6 sprigs fresh basil
To assemble, spread each cooked tart crust with 1 teaspoon mustard followed by 1 teaspoon pesto and 1/12 of the sauce. Arrange about 4 slices of baked eggplant on top of the sauce, add a pinch sea salt, and then top with another 1/12 of sauce, allowing eggplant to show around the edges. Sprinkle with just a hint of salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool enough to remove sides of tart pans without burning yourself and serve warm. Or, allow the tarts to cool completely, remove sides, and serve room temperature. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs.
Press-In Tart Crust:
Ever since I found this recipe at www.steptalk.org, it has been my go-to crust for everything! It is so easy, never-fail, requires no rolling, and is quite flavorful.
2 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose, white whole wheat, or whole wheat)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cup canola oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened soymilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center, and pour in oil and soymilk. Whisk together just until combined. Divide dough evenly among six 5-inch tart shells with removable bottoms, and press evenly onto bottom and around edges. I like to break the dough into pieces and distribute it around the bottom of the tart pan so that maintaining an even crust is much easier. Use a drinking glass to assest with the pressing if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes and remove to a wire rack. While tart shells bake, make sauce.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
2 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, stemmed, seeded, broiled until charred, and skin removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add onion and a pinch of sea salt and sauté about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, for about 1 minute. Place peppers, onion mixture, and balsamic mixture in the bowl of a food process, and process until fairly smooth. Check for salt and adjust if necessary.