I’m not surprised that cupcakes have become such a national trend. After all, what’s better than a slice of cake? A mini cake made just for you. Individualized and mini desserts are all the rage, but the trend is less pronounced in savory dishes, and I’m not sure why. Individual tarts –whether served as an appetizer or side dish, are a way to impress even the most jaded dinner guests.
There is one reason I can think of that individual tarts aren’t the most popular item: time. Pressing the dough in to each muffin pan shell takes a little patience. There are however two alternatives to this. Unger’s makes frozen mini pie shells (that are kosher, pareve, and not exceptionally expensive). If you want to enjoy the flavors of crisp pie crust with the golden leeks and toasty cauliflower, but don’t care too much about having adorable mini tarts, then adapt this recipe for make a large tart shell instead. If you do so, cut the dough recipe in half for one tart, but keep the filling amount about the same.
Cauliflower and Leek Tarlets – Makes 20 to 24 tartlets or 2 10-inch tarts
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons ice water
1 large head of cauliflower, washed and chopped in to small, even pieces
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
Two stalks leek, washed and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
bread or cornflake crumbs
Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut the butter in to the flour and salt until only small pieces of butter remain. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together (you may not need all 4). Gather the dough together in a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Press about two tablespoons of dough into the bottom of each greased muffin pan shell. (A tool for pressing down the dough, called a tamper, is sold in cooking store, a shot glass does about the same job). Stick the muffin pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. (If making a large tart, press the dough evenly in to the bottom of the greased pan.)
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring regularly, for 30 to 40 minutes, until dark brown and caramelized. Remove from the heat.
Toss the cauliflower and garlic together with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a metal baking sheet (better to use two than to crowd it) and roast on 450 F for 20 to 30 minutes, tossing occasionally, and checking to make sure it doesn’t burn. Set aside.
Lower the oven to 375 F and bake the pie shells for 20 minutes.
Mix the cauliflower and leek together, and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the beaten egg, and divide the mixture evenly among the pie shells. Sprinkle the tops of the tarts with bread or cornflake crumbs.
Return the filled shells to the oven, and continue baking for 30 minutes.