18 January, 2013

Upside Down Caramelized Root Vegetable Tart with Flaky Gruyere Crust

What's that you said?

You don't know what a parsnip is either?

I've started a new thing- I go to the supermarket, see something I've never cooked, and buy it.  

Then it sits in my fridge for a week because I don't know what to do with it. 

So I bought a couple parsnips.  Research says they are a root vegetable related to the carrot.  Makes sense, as they look like white carrots.  Wikepedia (yes, I really did get my info here) says they are buttery, sweeter than carrots, and have subtle flavors of butterscotch, honey, and cardamom when cooked.  Sounds pretty good.  
If you don't know (as I didn't) they get peeled the same way carrots do, and then simply cut into slices for this recipe.  

Sounded to me like parsnips and sweet potatoes would go pretty well together, and lucky me- I had a leftover sweet potato! So for you, I decided to make this upside down tart, quite lovely as an appetizer, a lunch, or a snack.  It can be eaten either hot or cold, though the crust is so delishiously flaky right out of the oven. 

Why upside down, you ask?

Because the vegetables caramelize so beautifully when cooked in oil in the hot cast iron skillet.  They turn a nice golden brown and have such a sweet flavor- butterscotch and honey are good ways of describing it. 
And the crust gets SO flaky when not weighed down in the bottom of a pan.  

If I had other root vegetables, I would have thrown them in too.  Experiment with whatever you have on hand, this recipe is pretty basic and forgiving.  

Upside Down Caramelized Root Vegetable Tart with Flaky Gruyere Crust

1 sweet potato, peeled, rinseed, and cut into thin (1/8 inch) slices
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil

Flaky Gruyere Crust
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cut in pieces and chilled
5 tbsp ice cold water
1/4 cup packed shredded gruyere


Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add the cold butter, and using your hands, work it into flour mixture until it is a crumbly texture.  Do this quickly, you don't want butter to melt too fast.  Drizzle water in and incorporate quickly (I don't mean you need to speed through this, but don't start and then walk away..)  Form gently into a ball, flatten into a 6 inch dish, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375.

The veggies:

Heat a few drizzles of olive oil in your cast iron skillet over medium, medium high heat. Add the red onion. Saute until soft.  Add garlic, saute a minute longer, and remove red onion and garlic from pan and set aside. 

Add a bit more olive oil, allow it to warm up for 30 seconds, and add half of the sweet potato. Saute until sweet potato begins to get golden brown color.  Remove from heat and saute other half of sweet potatoes. Remove and repeat with parsnips. 

Once all your veggies are sauteed until golden, remove them all from pan and remove skillet from heat.  Now you can arrange them in a pretty manner.  Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into the cast iron skillet and disperse.  Evenly sprinkle the thyme directly onto the pan. Begin layering veggies: I started with layering the smallest parsnips in the middle of the pan, followed by a layer of the smallest sweet potato slices, the red onion mixture, more parsnips, and more sweet potato. Season generously with salt and pepper. 
Remove the crust from the fridge and roll out until it is large enough to fit over the cast iron skillet. Quickly place it on top of the veggies and tuck the sides in a bit.  
Place in cast iron skillet in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
To remove the tart from the pan: 

Let cool 5-10 minutes until easier to handle.  Using a thin spatula, gently work it underneath the tart to try to lift any veggies stuck to pan.  Remember your pretty arrangement- be gentle with the spatula.  

Grab a plate- most dinner plates will fit just perfectly inside the cast iron skillet.  Place the plate on top of the tart, and (with oven mitts on!) lift the whole pan up and turn is upside down quickly.  Your tart should fall right out and look ever so perfect on your plate!  If it doesn't pry stuck veggies off and rearrange- the tart is pretty east to work with! 

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