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Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart (Galette au Chèvre et aux Tomates)

Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart (Galette au Chèvre et aux Tomates)
To give the dish a lightnessand the cook the possibility of using purchased pastry doughthis little galette is prepared with puff pastry rather than with the olive oilbased shortcrust pastry that is traditionally used. The rustic nature of the original still shines through in the combination of potatoes, tomatoes and the ubiquitous cheese made from the milk of myriad goats that roam the hillsides of Haute Provenceall products that the farmers of the area have readily at hand. The basil oil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months. It is also excellent in green salads, tomato salads and ratatouille, and drizzled over lamb or poached seafood.

Ingredients:

For the basil oil:

  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • About 1 1/2 cups peanut oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 1 lb. puff pastry, homemade (see related recipe
     at left) or purchased
  • 4 round yellow-fleshed potatoes, about 2 inches
     in diameter
  • 5 very round, very red tomatoes, about 2 inches
     in diameter
  • Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
  • 10 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Olive oil for brushing

Directions:

To make the basil oil, pluck the basil leaves from their stems. Place the stems and about 1/2 cup of the leaves in a small saucepan. Add enough peanut oil to cover. Heat the oil and basil slowly over low heat, then remove and let stand for 10 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the puree through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a pitcher, then transfer to a clean bottle. Let cool completely and then add the olive oil. You should have about 2 1/2 cups basil oil.

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet.

On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry 1/8 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a small plate as a template, cut out six 5-inch rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Prick the rounds with a fork to prevent them from rising, cover with a second baking sheet and place an ovenproof weight on top. Bake until brown and crisp, 18 to 20 minutes, pressing down twice on the top sheet to expel any air from the rounds. Remove from the oven, lift off the weight and top baking sheet, and set the pastry rounds aside to cool.

In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-high and boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool completely, then peel and slice 1/4 inch thick. Set aside at room temperature. Slice the tomatoes to the same thickness as the potatoes. If you like a slightly caramelized flavor, cut them thicker (1/3 inch), sprinkle lightly with sugar on one side and panfry on the sugared side for a moment to brown, then remove quickly. Carefully transfer to parchment paper to cool. Thinly slice the cheese.

Preheat a broiler.

Alternating the tomato, potato and cheese slices, arrange them in a spiral pattern to cover each pastry round. Distribute the torn basil evenly among the pastries, placing the pieces in the gaps between the vegetables and cheese. Brush the surface of each tart lightly with olive oil.

Slip the baking sheet under the broiler 5 inches from the heat source and broil until the tarts are glazed and warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Carefully transfer each tart to the center of a warmed plate. Drizzle a line of basil oil around the tart and serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Provence, by Diane Holuigue (Time-Life Books, 2002).