Ok, so we rocked the picnic last night. Let’s start with dessert. Apparently, it was National S’mores Day. Who makes this stuff up? Is it bloggers? The marshmallow council? Kraft? Anyway, it just so happened that as I was grocery shopping, I spotted a jar of mini marshmallows on the top shelf of the baking aisle. I don’t mean the usual mini marshmallows, I mean the kind you find in packets of hot cocoa – the really tiny, crunchy marshmallows. This, my friends, is why Pinterest is so awesome. I remembered at that moment this pin from almost a year ago. And I MADE IT. I can tell you that my kids were the most popular at the symphony last night, hands down. Treats make great friends.
Let’s move on to the main event, shall we? Last night’s picnic was attended by the store bought rotisserie chicken (let’s not get crazy making our own, right?), fresh figs, herbed chèvre, baguette, sausage stuffed mushrooms, fresh green beans, and a beet and potato tart. It was a lovely picnic.
I’ll admit to cheating a bit on the beet tart. First, I didn’t make the crust. I just didn’t have the time and I knew my family would be more open to trying a beet tart if it involved puff pastry instead of the lovely, healthier version of the crust provided in the original recipe. I am embarrassed to show you any photos of our beet tart in light of Aran’s beautiful photography, so please, do me a favor and don’t judge the photos but do check out Cannelle et Vanille because it is simply stunning. Aran is offering a food photography and styling workshop in September and I really want to go. You want me to go too, right? Anyone want to come with me?
Back to the tart. This beet and potato tart is a multi-step affair, but is not difficult to make. After cleaning and peeling the beets and potatoes, both are sliced and roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. My beets are a bit irregular in size as I used what was on hand in my garden. I highly recommend planting beets if you don’t already. They are easy to grow from seed, you forget they are there, and then you have these amazingly sweet little beautifully-colored yummies when you least expect it. My husband was an avowed beet hater until we started growing our own. He had seconds of last night’s tart.
While your beets roast, slice up an onion (I used a sweet onion and would do so again), some garlic, and half of a fennel bulb. Sauté your veggies with a pinch of salt until caramelized a bit, then add some balsamic vinegar. You are almost done.
The last step is to assemble the tart. Place your beets and potatoes in the bottom of a tart pan (I think you could use a skillet for this too, so long as it is oven proof), remembering that the bottom of the pan will actually be the top of your tart. Add your onion mixture over the top of your roots, then add some grated gruyère cheese on top of that. Finally, top with your defrosted, previously purchased puff pastry. Seal your pastry and give it a couple of pokes with a fork. I baked my tart for about 25-30 minutes at 400°. This is a slightly higher temperature than the original recipe, but I am at high altitude and used a different crust.
Now this last part is sort of scary. I know, I said we already did the last step but I was just kidding. Let your tart pan rest for five minutes then flip the whole thing onto a plate. I may have put just a little bit of olive oil in my tart pan with a paper towel before assembling my tart. I was scared all the same. Don’t worry, it will work. If any of your beets or potatoes stick, just put them back on top of the tart – no one will ever notice.
A few final tips? The recipe calls for two potatoes and five beets. I didn’t have large beets so used quite a few small ones. I wish I had used a few more. I did use three potatoes instead of two, which helped, but I would have liked the same amount of potato and still more beet. I think you could go with more than an ounce and a half of cheese also, but I’m of the more is more school when it comes to cheese. My tart pan was a 9” square. If you are using something bigger, adjust accordingly.
Oh, and the stuffed mushrooms? I totally forgot about those. I don’t actually like mushrooms, but we had the goods in the kitchen, so I made them anyway. They were gone in a flash. If you like stuffed mushrooms, try Ina Garten’s recipe with no changes. I’ll admit that even though I don’t like mushrooms, this stuffing is really tasty. This is a perfect picnic food or appetizer for a dinner party or Christmas or whatever. I always have leftover stuffing when I make these. I bet it would be wonderful in some of that leftover puff pastry from your beet tart.