fancy pants pastry!

Yeah, this is right before I ate it without a fork.  Who needs forks?

Actually, I should be more accurate: this looks fancy pants but isn't really.  And it's no secret that the way to get "fancy" food things that are really dead easy is to just go to Trader Joes.  I mean, that's what their frozen aisle is for, right?

In this case, I'm falling back on a favorite trick of mine for summer cooking: their frozen puff pastry (all butter, yo!).  It's the quickest, easiest way to make a fancy veg tart, or fruit tart, or food-item-on-top-of-flaky-butter-pastry-for-me-to-eat. Just defrost, unroll, top with something, and bake.

They just come off the mandoline like this! please to note, the safety dohickeys that keep you from slicing off fingers.

Because we were on the dredges of the zucchini and yellow squash from the last few weeks of CSA boxes, and I only had one sad little overripe tomato left, I decided against making my summer standby with puff pastry, a tomato tart.  Instead I went fancier! and busted out the mandoline to slice the zucchini and squash into thin little rounds.

A note on mandolines: I freaking love them. Mine is awesome, though a pain in the ass to store (affiliate link to a very similar one as mine from the same brand. Mine is a decade old, and this new one looks easier to store, actually).  But I prefer it to the smaller hand-held ones, because I am less likely to slice off my hand since it has not just a stand, but also a slider guard thing and a holder guard thing.  Plus it makes satisfying little piles of veg. 

I cut the tomato by hand because it was seriously overripe and so so soft.  I used the handy dandy serrated paring knife--which for real is the best $10 I've spent in ages (affiliate link. Mine's yellow).  Serrated knives are great for slicing things that are firmer on the outside than they are on the inside--like, say, tomatoes and bread.  And this knife is a major workhorse in my kitchen because hi, tomatoes and bread.  

the unrolled sheet of pastry.  mmm . . . pastry.

I defrosted the frozen puff pastry by leaving it out on the counter for a few hours, though if you plan ahead better than I do, you can also just leave it in the fridge overnight.  I really like the Trader Joes brand because not only is it all butter and therefore tastes way better, but the rolls of pastry are individually wrapped.  This way, you can open the box (which generally contains two rolls), and not have your unused roll dry out on you when you forget about it in the freezer for two weeks. Ahem. Not that that's happened ever.

Cause I like crust, I cut the pastry into a few smaller pieces to make smaller tarts (using scissors, but a sharp knife works well too), and popped them onto a baking sheet. I've also just unrolled the whole thing onto a baking sheet and used that for a larger tart (works well with tomatoes).  Using the back of a paring knife, I gently scored a line about 3/4 inch inside the edge--this not only gives you a visual guide of where to put the toppings, but also helps the edges of the tart puff up a bit more evenly.


cream cheese, doctored up.

For an all tomato tart, I generally just lay on the tomatoes, with no base layer.  But I wasn't sure how well the zucchini and squash would do with that, so I added a thin layer of cheese.  We were all out of goat cheese, so I grabbed some cream cheese (maybe a tablespoon or two?), doctored it up with salt, pepper, a glug of olive oil and grated a clove of garlic into the mix.  Had I thought about it for more than a second, I probably could have added some chives and parmesan, too.  Alas, next time.


I spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mix onto the dough with the back of a spoon, and then layered the slices all pretty-like.  I started in the lower left, and going clockwise, you can see how the pretty-like devolved as I went along. The cheese helps keep the slices in place.  Give each tart a giant sprinkle of kosher salt, a ton of ground black pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil, and you're nearly ready to go.



see the salt and pepper? Don't forget that.

Half the time I do anything with puff pastry, I forget to do the egg wash, which makes the pastry all shiny and pretty.  Sometimes if I remember, I do a halfhearted wash with some milk or half and half, which isn't a bad second option.  But this time, THIS TIME, I remembered!  I beat the shit out of an egg with a splash of water, and used a wee little silicone pastry brush (from sur la table, love this thing), to brush it on the pastry before baking.



The tarts cooked at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, until dark golden brown.  Don't skimp on the cooking time.  Light brown is bullshit.  Go for the dark golden brown like a boss.

mmm pastry.

Eat warm, or room temp. Both are good. But do it quick: the only caveat for these savory zucchini/tomato/squash tarts is that they don't keep well.  They're a eat right now and don't wait until tomorrow kind of thing.  The pastry gets soggy and chewy after a stay in the fridge.  But that's ok, because honestly, if you can not eat all of them in one sitting, you are a far better person than me.  (And also crazy, just saying.)