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.”
- 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.