by Jordan Danz
I think that winter vegetables get a bad rap. They are eaten more out of necessity than desire because our selection severely dwindles as the temperatures drop. Spring, summer and early fall bring a large selection of bright, colorful and fresh tasting fruits and vegetables. They are vibrant and delicious but temporary. Winter vegetables, on the other hand, are earthy, resilient and earthen colored. They are mostly roots and thick skinned squash, but their flavors are deeper, bolder and more complex. It is these qualities that I believe make them exciting.
Unfortunately, most of the recipes that include winter vegetables are soups, stews or salads. People rarely make them the star of the show, but rather use them as accoutrements to bring out their earthy, aromatic qualities. Because they are also heartier, they can stand up to the longer cooking times. I wanted to showcase the flavor of winter vegetables and make them the star of a dish, allowing their individual flavors to come through.
In this Winter Vegetable Tart I use the sweetness of carrots with the spiciness of turnips to balance each other, but still let the individual flavors of each truly pop. I also didn’t want them to be cooked into mush; I wanted to retain some of the crunchy texture of vegetables. I think that this recipe shows the versatility of winter vegetables. The best part is that you can replace any of the ingredients with your favorite winter vegetable.
Winter Vegetable Tart
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
½ bunch kale, chopped
2 leeks, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
3–4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced*
3–4 turnips, peeled and thinly sliced*
3 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
*Tip: Use a mandolin or the slicing attachment on a food processor to get a nice thin cut on carrots and turnips.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prep Tart Crust: On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll out the Puff Pastry to about 12” x 9”. Cut a 1 inch rectangular strip of pastry from each side of the pastry so you are left with an 11”x8” sheet and set aside. Crack the egg into a small bowl, add about 2 teaspoons of water and whisk. Brush the egg wash around each side. Place the cut strips of pastry around the edge over the egg wash which will act as a glue. Place prepared tart crust on sheet pan with parchment and set aside.
Prep Vegetables: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add leaks and sage and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add another tablespoon of olive oil, kale salt and pepper. Cook until kale is wilted, about 4 more minutes. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Place carrots and turnips in 2 separate medium bowls. To each bowl add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sage, 1 tablespoon Rosemary, 1 tablespoon of thyme and salt and pepper. Toss each to coat.
Make Balsamic Reduction: Heat Balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until it has reduced by about two thirds, stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cook and thicken.
Assemble and Bake Tart: Once leeks and kale mixture is cooled, place directly onto tart making sure to keep it off the double layer strip on the edge. On top of the leek and kale mixture layer the vegetables in any pattern you want. Brush the edges of pastry with remaining egg wash. Place tart in oven and bake until vegetables are cooked just soft and crust is puffed up and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Once out, drizzle Balsamic Reduction over the top of the tart. Cut into pieces and serve warm or room temperature.
Jordan is a home cook based in Minneapolis. He enjoys cooking, eating and spending time at his local food co-ops and farmers’ markets finding new flavors and ingredients to experiment with. His passion for fresh local ingredients inspires his belief that food has the power to bring people together.