Unlike a lot of people, I like Thursday Night Football. Sure, it stinks if you’re on the East Coast or live somewhere in the middle of the country and football goes up against your favorite shows, (we’ll leave the ‘Community’ vs ‘Big Bang Theory’ debate for another day), or if you’re on the West Coast and football starts at 5:20pm while you’re still at the office. The trade off is that if your team plays on Thursday, you’re under a lot less pressure to watch football on Sunday and this is the time of year when Sundays start to become very, very valuable.
Thanksgiving in two weeks means you either need the following Sunday for travel or for recuperation, or most likely, both. And then it’s holiday party season which takes up both weeknights and weekends. Last second work projects need completed by the end of the year. More travel. More recuperation. Forget holiday shopping, just going to the grocery store starts to take longer around this time of year. Because everyone’s back on Standard Time, you sort of want to spend some time outside on Sunday after going into a windowless office while it’s still dark and then returning home again without seeing a single ray of daylight.
Football on Thursdays? Efficient use of time if you ask me.
Just because you’re rushed to watch football on Thursday night — or for that matter, Monday night — doesn’t mean you don’t have time to make a decent football snack. Enter the rustic tart.
Tarts are incredibly forgiving and can pretty much be stuffed with whatever you want. Sort of pizza like, not very pizza like; healthy ingredients or a pound of sausage. Up to you.
Potato Leek and Tomato Cheese Rustic Tarts
You will need…
Potato Leek Rustic Tart
1 Pre-made pie crust, thawed
1/2-1 Pound of baby potatoes, sliced
2 Leeks, chopped and cleaned (White and light green part only.)
Fresh savory herbs, chopped (I prefer sage, rosemary and thyme. Just a few stems of each.)
Tablespoon or two of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Tomato Cheese Rustic Tart
1 pre-made pie crust, thawed
3 ripe Roma tomatoes
About a cup of cheese; mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan mix of you happen to have all on hand. (I find rustic tarts are a great way to use up the little bits of cheese I have left over that are not enough cheese for a cheesier dish.)
Fresh basil and parsley, chopped (A few sprigs each.)
Tablespoon or two of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375º.
A brief word on pre-made crusts.
When I make pie, I make my own crust. (I generally use the Joy of Cooking recipe for a quick crust that calls for the fats to be 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening, flour, a little water or milk and a dash of salt.) A homemade crust elevates the simple fruit pie, brings out the best in custard pies and is an absolute must with mousse pies. When making savory tarts, quiches or meat pies, store bought pie dough saves on both time and effort without sacrificing taste. Don’t be ashamed to use pre-made crusts from time to time.
If you want to roll out the crusts a little bit more so they are 12 inches across and not the standard 9 inch crusts you can, but it’s not necessary.
In a large bowl, combine the sliced potatoes, chopped leeks and herbs. Season with about a teaspoon each of salt and ground pepper and mix in about a tablespoon or so of olive oil until everything is lightly coated. (If you want to add either provolone or feta cheese to this blend you can, but it really tastes better with just the potato and leeks taking the forefront of the tart.)
For the tomato tart, slice the Roma tomatoes (selected because of their lower water content) and let rest on paper towels for a few minutes to drain off any extra water. Chop together the leaves from your parsley and basil.
Complete the following steps on lined cookie sheets for easier handling when the tarts are ready to go into the oven. Moving a raw stuffed tart is asking for disaster.
For the tomato tart, layer most of the cheese on top of the crust first (tomatoes on the bottom makes the crust soggy), then the herbs and then the tomatoes, leaving about an inch of space to the edge of the pastry. Drizzle with about a half to a tablespoon of olive oil, top with a dash of salt and pepper and cover with remaining cheese.
For the potato leek tart, spread your mix on the pastry evenly and again leaving about an inch of space at the edge of the pastry.
Yes, that looks like a lot of potatoes and leeks. Have no fear, they will bake down in the oven. I used a full pound of potatoes for this particular tart, but if you only want to use 1/2 pound you can. Just be sure to use one less leek.
Fold the edges of the crust over the toppings. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look pretty. They’re “rustic” tarts.
If making both tarts, put the tomato cheese tart at the top 1/3 rack of the oven and the potato leak tart at the bottom 1/3 rack. If only making one, the middle of the oven is fine.
Bake at 375º for about twenty minutes for the tomato cheese tart and thirty minutes for the potato leek tart, or until the crust is golden brown. Switch the tarts with about ten minutes to go for even baking.
Slice and serve.
I know I’ve been slacking some on posting this season, but have no fear. Another post tomorrow since we haven’t discussed the football brunch since last season. For shame.
Don’t forget to add your pictures to Football Foodies Flickr Group from last weekend and be sure to get some new shots this weekend! Like Mr. Andrew Bucholtz from Yahoo! Canada’s CFL blog The 55 Yard Line who posted the picture of the Shredded Chicken Mole Frito Pie he made from the very recipe I posted last week. I recommend you brush up on your CFL now so you have football to watch next season during the lockout.