When most people think of the south of France, they think of popular towns like Cannes, Nice and Provence but there’s another charming – and less expensive - region to the west called “Languedoc-Roussillon”. It was in Montpellier, the capital city of this historic region, that I learned to make one of my favorite savory tarts.
Like France itself, this tart is a complex layer of flavor and texture. It’s so easy to prepare that I don’t even measure the ingredients but I’ve tried to give you an approximate amount in this recipe. The secret is to make each part of the filling separately and then bring them together at the end.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sliced leeks (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cups chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake, but any mushroom will do)
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 Tablespoon garlic, crushed
- 1 Tablespoon fig jam
- 1 package (sheet) of puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
- Olive oil, as needed
- Butter, as needed
- Salt, to taste
I make the fillings in a single 8” non-stick omelet pan and start by heating the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the sliced leeks and sprinkle with salt, then add the fig jam (I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this, it adds a delicate sweet balance) and 1 tablespoon butter and saute until soft and golden brown. Transfer the leeks to a small bowl but do not rinse the pan – you want to keep all that flavor building!
Now add the crushed garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add in the spinach and saute until soft. Transfer the spinach to another small bowl but, again do not rinse the pan.
Add another tablespoon of butter and swirl until melted, then add the sliced mushrooms and saute until golden brown. At this point, you can just keep the mushrooms in the pan.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lay in the puff pastry. Poke the puff pastry with a fork every few inches.
Now add each filling, spreading it generously over the puff pastry but leaving 2” all around. Sprinkle on the feta cheese. Fold over the edges to create a 1-inch border all around and brush the pastry will the egg wash.
Bake at 425F for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. To check for doneness, lift the pastry with a spatula to make sure the bottom is fully baked. Remove from oven, cut and serve immediately. If it looks too dry, you can brush the entire tart with a little olive oil to give it a nice sheen.
If you love French food as much as I do, why not join us at The Chopping Block’s next French Bistro hands-on cooking class and learn how to cook traditional bistro fare? We have four classes coming up:
- October 25th at Lincoln Square
- November 14th at Lincoln Square
- November 29th at Lincoln Square
- November 21st at Merchandise Mart