Monday, August 1, 2016

Creamy Artichoke and Heirloom Tomato Tart


I remember the exact moment I first tried an artichoke. It was in Jennifer Nunes' kitchen in Arlington, VA. We were in the fifth grade. Her mother set down a ramekin with melted butter. I'm half German, I am born to love butter. If this family enjoyed it melted, I could get down with that tradition. I just needed bread. But what Mrs. Nunes set before me wasn't bread, not nearly. Here was an alien flower, its petals topped with delicate spikes. I watched Jennifer pluck a leaf and dip the fleshy end into the butter then gently scraping the meat with her teeth. I followed suit, making sure that my introductory leaf cradled a healthy puddle of butter.



It was fabulous. I helped polish off the entire globe and another along with it. Years later, in college, my best friend Christine introduced me to the cocktail staple that is baked artichoke dip. It's one of those modest Betty Crocker Cookbook offerings that survived the 50s culinary dumpster fire that included vile gems like Super Supper Salad Loaf and we're better for it.

No. Just, no.

I'm happy to join the artichoke parade, borrowing from my culinary ancestors and adding to their yummy legacy with a tart that uses puff pastry as a base, which adds a flaky crispness that compliments the simple creaminess of the baked filling. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, just off the vine and thinly sliced, are a juicy foil for all that buttery lusciousness. Top with fresh herbs and you've got yourself the ultimate summer tart. Betty Crocker would approve.

CREAMY ARTICHOKE and HEIRLOOM TOMATO TART
(makes one 18" x 13" tart)



For the pastry

2 pounds puff pastry, either frozen (blech) or homemade. Here's a link to my Craftsy puff pastry class at a 50% off discount so you can get yourself away from the freezer aisle and enjoy the beauty of real puff pastry. You can also do a search on this blog for quick puff as well!

For the filling

1 (8 ounce) package Philadelphia cream cheese
1 (6.5 ounce) tin marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup Hellman's (or Good Food) mayonnaise
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping

5-6 fresh, heirloom tomatoes of differing color and size
fresh herbs

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line a half-sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

Roll the puff pastry into a rough 18" x 13" rectangle. Use a half-sheet pan as a guide. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes in the refrigerator and then trim the sides with a sharp knife. Dock the dough using a fork. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puff has risen, is golden brown and is just set. Set aside.


While the dough is baking, add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté over low heat until softened. Add the maple syrup and paprika and stir to combine.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the cream cheese, artichoke hearts, parmigiano, mayo, onion & garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth.

Gently spread the artichoke mixture over the puff, leaving about 1/2 inch of the edge naked. Top with sliced tomatoes and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the filling just start to brown.

Top with fresh herbs and serve warm.