Zucchini, Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

This isn’t the first time I’m telling you this, and it probably won’t be the last, but I totally stink at feeding myself lunch. Every day 11 am rolls around and I start searching the fridge and pantry trying to piece something together that resembles a healthy meal. Shane frequently reminds me that a bowl of popcorn is not a sufficient lunch, but that’s exactly what I end up eating sometimes. I can assuage any guilt I might feel about it by adding a piece of fruit on the side :) Breakfast and dinner are rarely a struggle but for some reason, I just can’t get my act together on lunch.

Some days are easier than others, especially when I’m not too busy and can spend a little time putting together a recipe.  It’s even better when that recipe only makes enough food to feed me for one or two days because while I do enjoy leftovers, I need variety in my lunches.  Eating the same thing for an entire week is not going to cut it.

Zucchini, Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

Zucchini, Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

These colorful tarts were the cover shot on a magazine I picked up recently, and I was in the kitchen making them for lunch the first afternoon I had the time. The magazine features recipes that have been scaled back to feed two people, which is not only perfect for our small family, but also great for lunch ideas for me. There’s an entire section of vegetarian dishes that Shane would never touch, but they’re the ideal solution to my lunch dilemma. I loved so many things about these zucchini, tomato and ricotta tarts. The ingredient list is pretty short and utilizes the fresh produce available right now. You can make the tart shells ahead of time, which helps get lunch on the table faster. This recipe yields just two 4-inch tarts; I had one the same day I made them and ate the second the following day. The buttery crust is sturdy so it doesn’t get soggy and it is fantastic in combination with the creamy cheese filling and the fresh veggies. They’re so pretty I could see serving the tarts as part of a lunch spread too. For now, though, I’m just glad to have one more lunch idea to keep things interesting around here.

Zucchini, Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

Zucchini, Tomato and Ricotta Tarts
from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two

Tart Shells
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 1/8 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons ice water

Filling
9 cherry tomatoes
1/2 small zucchini (about 3 oz), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 oz (about 1/4 cup) ricotta (not non-fat)
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

To make the tart shells: Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about 15 pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the ice water over the mixture and process until the dough begins to form large clumps, about 5 seconds. If the dough doesn’t clump, add the second tablespoon of water and pulse to incorporate.

Spray two 4-inch pans with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the dough in half and press evenly over the bottom and up the sides of each tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes (or up to 1 day).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the tart shells from the freezer. Line each with a piece of aluminum foil that’s been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Fill the shells with pie weights and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown and the surface no longer looks wet. Remove the foil and weights from the shells and bake another 5-10 minutes, until the shells are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling: Slice 7 of the tomatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds (about 5 per tomato). Quarter the remaining 2 tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread on paper towels. Toss the zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt spread it on paper towels as well. Set aside from 30 minutes to draw out some of the water; blot dry before using.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F. In a small bowl combine the 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the garlic. In a second bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of oil, ricotta and mozzarella and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread half of the ricotta mixture into an even layer over the bottom of each tart shell. Working around the outer edge, layer alternating layers of tomato and zucchini slices. Place the quartered tomatoes in the center of the tarts. Drizzle the garlic-oil mixture over the vegetables.

Bake the tarts on a rimmed baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the vegetables are slightly wilted. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and let tarts cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the fresh basil before serving.

Makes two 4-inch tarts