Recipe: Vegetable Pesto Puff Pastry Tart

Recipe: Vegetable Pesto Puff Pastry Tart

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A box of puff pastry stashed in the freezer means magical things can happen, including a tart with a colorful mosaic of summer vegetables layered on top of fragrant basil pesto and topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese and red pepper flakes. A still-warm slice of this buttery tart is just the thing you'll want to eat outside with a frosty glass of rosé.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Salted Vegetables = No Soggy Bottom

Lots of sliced summer squash and juicy tomatoes are the heart of this tart, but they can water the crust down if just thrown on top as is. The key here is to do one extra step while the oven is heating: Salt them first. The salt draws out a lot of moisture in just 20 minutes and seasons the vegetables at the same time. Quickly blot away the water that's beaded on top with paper towels, and you're left with vegetables that will roast nicely while the puff pastry browns and crisps up.

Store-bought puff pastry is worth always having in the freezer, but did you know you can also freeze pesto? The next time you make a big batch or find yourself with some leftovers, freeze what you need for this tart and defrost it while you're defrosting the puff pastry. A perfect pesto tart is then at your fingertips — all you need are some veggies!

Freezer-to-Table Meals

The freezer is one of our favorite secret weapons for getting weeknight dinners on the table stat. This week, we're sharing the best staples to keep in the freezer and, more importantly, how to turn them into tasty meals that require minimal effort or planning. It's time to embrace our friend the freezer!

Vegetable Pesto Puff Pastry Tart

Serves 8 to 12

1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium), halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half moons
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (about 10 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14- to 17-ounce) package frozen puff pastry (preferably all butter), thawed in the refrigerator
1/2 cup basil pesto, at room temperature
2 1/2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the tomatoes and summer squash on a baking sheet or 2 large plates in a single layer. Sprinkle with the salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Move the parchment to a work surface. Unfold the puff onto the parchment (if your package has 2 sheets, place them side by side, slightly overlapping, so that they fit the baking sheet). Using a rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about the size of the baking sheet. Transfer the puff, still on the parchment, to the baking sheet.

Carefully roll about 1/2 inch of each side in on itself toward the center to form the outer rim of the tart. Dollop the pesto evenly over the puff and spread into an even layer. Pat the vegetables dry with paper towels to absorb the moisture beaded on top. Lay the vegetable slices evenly over the pesto, overlapping them slightly to fit. Sprinkle with the feta cheese, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

Bake until the edges are puffed and and the bottom is crisp and golden-brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  • Puff pastry: Look for ready-made puff pastry in the freezer section, particularly those brands made with all butter rather than oil. They will have a richer flavor, and the dough will produce nice layers of pastry. For best results, defrost in the refrigerator at least 4 hours and up to 1 day before using.
  • Storage: This recipe is best eaten the day it's made. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Rewarm in a 325°F oven until warmed through.
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