31 December 2006

Tourte Provençale

To see the old year out, I wanted to make something truly French.

That’s not entirely true: I wanted to use up stuff in my freezer, like zucchini, eggplant and tomato paste. I save everything, every little scrap, of summer’s bounty. Little bits of tomato, pepper, or eggplant usually make their way into soup, ratatouille or pizza — eventually.

I took stock of my refrigerator and cupboards and decided upon my own version of a rustic tourte that would use up a rather oldish hunk of Gruyere and some heavy cream left over from holiday truffle making.

This dish was inspired by a recipe from a remainder-table cookbook, “Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection: Regional French.”

Tourte Provençale


  • 1 tube refrigerator puff-pastry or croissant dough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 small yellow onions
  • Two medium or four small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 2-3 large shallots
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1/8-teaspoon nutmeg
  • Dash fleur de sel (from the Camargue, if you have some)
  • Dash pepper


Preparing the vegetables: Wash, chop and peel the zucchini and eggplant and sprinkle with salt to remove the water. Set them on a paper towel or in a colander. I usually use a mix of sell de fleur and herbs de Provençe for this. If you do, reduce the amount of herbes and salt you add later, or rinse and allow the vegetables to dry again. I prefer the latter method.

Making the crust: Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Try to get it thin enough for a top and bottom and side crust. I used a medium-sized spring form pan for this. I cut a circle for the bottom, and strips for the sides, patting them both into the greased and floured pan. I had enough crust to fit around the sides of the “top” — with a hole in the center of the circle to let the steam out. This is the way it should be, as when the tourte is done, you will flip it over as you remove it from the pan so what is the top becomes the bottom.

Once the “bottom” and side crusts were patted into the pan, I wrapped the pan in wax paper and popped it in the refrigerator.

Preparing the filling: Next, brown the chopped onion in one teaspoon olive oil for 2-3 minutes, adding the other vegetables, the shallot and the rest of the olive oil. Next add the tomato paste and garlic and finally the herbs. Season, set aside and allow to cool.

Whip cream and two eggs in a small bowl. Add cheese and the nutmeg. Blend this with the cooled vegetable mixture.

Putting it all together: Remove pan with crust from the refrigerator and pour in the vegetable, cream, egg and cheese mix. Pat into the pan with a spatula until it is tightly packed. There should be enough filling to meet the strips along the sides of the pan Return the spring form pan and its contents (it’s best to cover it) into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Now it’s time to add what will become the bottom crust to the tourte. If you have enough dough left, roll a thin circle that will fit over the top of the tourte. The circle should be slightly larger than the tourte so you can tuck the sides under slightly.

Or you can simply fit the dough along the sides of the top of the pan, leaving an area in the center for the steam to escape.

Bake the tourte for 15 minutes at 375, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake it for about another 30 minutes, until the crust has turned golden brown.

Allow the tourte to cool for 15-20 minutes, then remove the pan, flipping the tourte over so that the bottom is now the top crust. Spray it with egg wash, if you like. I use the spray can stuff you find in the baking section of the supermarket.

I liked it. My husband did not. We’ll see what everyone else thinks.

Note: I used vegetables that had been in the freezer. Next time I will use fresh. They were a bit rubbery.

I’m going to try an easier version that is more of a savory cheesecake one of these days.

11 comments:

lindy said...

This sounds very good -I am a big fan of savory pastries. Can I ask you what kind of premade puff pastry you use? I used to use Pepperidge Farm quite happily, until I read the ingredients, and had a go at making my own puff pastry.
The sad result is that the PF no longer tastes okay to me. Though the homemade stuff was pretty successful-I'm just not up to making it that often, and wish I could find a real butter, frozen kind somewhere. (Saw some at Williams-Sonoma, but it was $60 for a pound!)
I think the world is definitely ready for some moderately priced, all-butter premade puff p.-if there isn't something on the market yet.

Tanna said...

Leftovers into fancy French! Lovely
Happy New Year to you and all you love.

Mimi said...

hzsrkLindy, I must admit, I used Pillsbury dough — the kind that comes in rolls. No, it's not the greatest. But I am pressed for time this weekend. I have used Athens puff pastry in the past.

In a perfect world, I would make my own. But with two jobs (an unbelievable amount of end-of-semester paperwork accompanies adjunct college teaching), my kitchen world is less than perfect.

I just hope this thing goes over tonight, Tanna. (BTW, how come the one year we make plans for NYE, we get two invites? Murphy's Law of Holidays, or something!)

Lu said...

Mimi, what a nice dish. I thought I'd let you know that we too wanted a French meal. Tonight's dish is the Roast Chicken & Shallots from Susan Loomis' French Farmhouse. Dessert? A creme brulee! Mais oui!

Mimi said...

Oh my, Lu, I think we are making the same dish (or a very similar one) tomorrow! Mine is from the Rue Tatin cookbook and is made with Champagne. I had asked David Lebovitz about a SLH chicken dish and he recommended the one with shallots. But it sounds like we are talking about two different cookbooks here!

My dessert is brie en croute.

cityfarmer said...

Did you actullu make this recemtly????
I'm amazed.mmmmmm

Mimi said...

Made it last night to serve tonight. It is better after it sits for a day. I slice it and serve it cold.

With Champagne!

A votre santé!

Jann said...

This is lovely-too beautiful to eat.What an enchanting dinner this must have been! I am always on the lookout for a premade puff pastry,too. Hard to believe we have no selections-I stock up at the markets in France and pile it in my suitcase. It travels well in its' long narrow box.Brisee-pate a tarte deja etalee-for sweet tarts and there are many for tarts similar to what you just made. I wish I could import this dough- plain baking

Jann said...

plain baking-every day use, for cheese,meaty or veggie tarts,which I make often. Somehow this got left out on the last post-

Mimi said...

I'll try them out in France and maybe stock up, Jann. Only a few months now...

Julie said...

Who says leftovers can't be fancy. A nice salad a bottle of wine, what a great dinner.