This post is a “shout out” across the web to Alexandra of the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen to thank her for sharing such a fantastic recipe. I ran across it while searching for guidance on making a tart with the jewel-colored beets I’d just hunted and gathered at the (ongoing, through the winter!) Norwich Farmer’s Market. Who says you can’t get good local produce in Vermont once the weather turns colder?
Anyway, even if you can’t find beets quite as sunset orange or deep pinky red as those from Your Farm in Fairlee, Vermont you shouldn’t be deterred from baking this savory show stopper. Go out and forage for some of your own local beets right now, they’re everywhere. This tart fits right in at an elegant autumnal brunch or on a Thanksgiving table, especially if you’re looking to cook some less meat-centered dishes this holiday season. And it just looks so darn pretty. Amber-flecked hunks of goat cheese and heat-kissed walnuts speak to the somewhat muted season outdoors while the beets add a surprising, colorful sense of cheer to plates inside. A little parsley sprinkled on top makes it very artistic and appetizing.
And don’t forget to make your own crust! It’s my annual plea to those of you who might be tempted to go out and buy something factory made. Please, please consider covering your fingers with a little soft, powdery flour and some cool, squishy butter. It’s really fun and a zillion times tastier than something you’ll find in a store. A little practice at making your own crust and you’ll soon feel like you should be opening your own bakery. And the first thing on the menu would be these tarts.
Beet, Walnut and Goat Cheese Tart
The recipe I’m sharing with you from Alexandra’s Kitchen suggests using buttermilk instead of cream. I tried it and highly recommend it – this is a fantastic alternative as it cuts calories dramatically without affecting flavor. Some of you might stop reading right here thinking, “Oh, I don’t have any buttermilk in the fridge” or “I’m not going to go out and buy a quart of buttermilk if I only need a cup for a recipe.” But I’m here to tell you that you already have buttermilk on hand! You can make your own in five minutes with ingredients you have in your kitchen by taking one cup of milk (whole milk works best but I have used 2%) and adding either a tablespoon of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) or a tablespoon of lemon juice to it. Voila! After five minutes, you’ll notice the milk has thickened. That means it’s ready to use in your recipe.
So, to recap: 1 cup milk + 1 TBS vinegar or lemon juice + 5 minutes = Buttermilk!
Oh, and the recipe below calls for roasting the beets. I got lazy and just boiled mine until they were soft, peeled of the skin and cut them into bite-sized cubes. The rest of what you read, from here on out, is from Alexandra’s Kitchen.
Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Tart (from Alexandra’s Kitchen)
1 recipe tart dough, shaped and blind baked
Yield: 12 ounces, enough for one 10-inch tart or 6 individual tarts
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and well chilled
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Quickly cut the butter into the flour, using a pastry blender or the back of a fork, until the butter pieces are the size of large peas. (Alternatively, cut the butter into the flour by pulsing it 8 to 10 times in a food processor, being careful not to overheat and overmix the butter.)
2. Add the ice water. Using just your fingertips and working quickly, combine the flour mixture and the water. Work just until the water is absorbed. The dough will be ragged but should hold together when you squeeze it. If it seems dry, sprinkle on a few more drops of water. (I had to add a few more tablespoons of water.)
3. Gather the dough up into a ball — it’s fine if the dough does not come together completely at this time. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap, flatten it a bit, and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour before rolling. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also freeze the dough, well wrapped; allow it to defrost for a day in the refrigerator before using it.
4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Roll the dough into a large circle — large enough to overlap whatever sized tart pan you are using. Press the dough into the corners and into the sides of the tart pan. Trim off any excess dough. Line the tart with plastic wrap and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Fold plastic up and over to expose the crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove beans from tart.
Meanwhile Prepare the Tart.
Note: This recipe has been slightly modified from the original, which can be found here.
2 to 3 small beets (Note: Since you are roasting beets, you may as well roast a few more. When assembling the tart, I used about 2 heaping cups of diced beets)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or Sherry or Madeira — whatever you have on hand.)
1 recipe tart dough (above)
3 large eggs
¾ cup heavy cream (I used buttermilk)
4 ounces fresh goat cheese (I used less. Add according to taste/preference.)
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used less. Add according to taste/preference.)
1 tablespoon walnut oil (Optional — I did not use.)
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Wash the beets. Place the beets in a small ovenproof pan (like a brownie pan or a pie plate.) Add water to reach 1/8-inch up the sides. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 45 minutes.
2. Allow the beets to cool. (Or not). Rub the skins off of the beets with your fingers, then dice the beets into small cubes. (Be careful, as beet juice can stain counters, towels, and even your hands; you may want to wear gloves for this step.)
3. Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with a little salt, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the onion is just tender, about 7 minutes. Add the alcohol and cook for another minute, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. (Note: I caramelized my onions a bit more — cooked them slowly for about 25 minutes.)
4. Heat the oven to 350°F. Add the beets and onions to the blind-baked tart shell. (Note: I added the walnuts at this step as well, but Hamersley adds them after the tart has already baked for 20 minutes. Your call.)
5. Whisk together the eggs and cream (or buttermilk), season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and carefully pour over the beets and onion, letting the mixture seep evenly into the beets. Dot the goat cheese all over the top of the tart. Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top of the tart and drizzle the walnut oil over it, if using. Return the tart to the oven and bake until just set, an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the tart with the chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Final Notes: If you can roast the beets ahead of time and prepare the tart shell (or make the tart dough) in advance, this tart can be assembled in no time.