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Updated Southern Cooking:
Boursin and Vegetable Tart with Potato Crust

John Tullock

This rich and elegant dish can accompany roast meat, or can star on its own as the entree for a vegetarian meal. It can be cooked either in a nine inch pie pan, or in individual tart pans about four inches in diameter. The idea for the crust came from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

For the crust:

Grease the pie pan or tart shells. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Shred enough Yukon Gold potatoes to yield 2 cups. Toss the shreds in a bowl with the white of an egg and a teaspoon of onion powder. Using plastic wrap to keep the potatoes from sticking to your fingers, pat the mixture into the pie pan or tart shells to a thickness of about one fourth to one half of an inch, building up a rim around the edges of the pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with extra-virgin olive oil, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are lightly browned. Remove and reserve. Reduce oven temperature to 375° F if continuing with the recipe immediately. The crusts can be made in advance and stored loosely covered in the refrigerator for up to eight hours.

To complete the tarts:

Spread a four ounce package of Boursin with black pepper, softened to room temperature, in the bottom of the crust, dividing it equally between the four tart shells, if using them. Set aside.

In a skillet or sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and sauté 1 medium onion, chopped, until translucent. Add salt and a sprinkling of pepper, along with 1 cup frozen green peas and carrots (or substitute fresh peas and carrots, previously blanched). Saute for about 1 minute, then distribute the vegetables on top of the Boursin in the crust(s).

Combine 2 whole eggs with 1/4 cup milk, beating well, but without incorporating air bubbles. Pour over the tarts. Sprinkle the top with chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, basil, thyme or rosemary, and a little paprika for color.

Bake the tarts at 375°F for about 40 minutes to one hour, or until the eggs are set and the top is slightly browned. Serve hot.

This recipe, like so many of the ones I create, lends itself to variations. As long as the total amount is about 2 -1/2 cups, any non-leafy vegetables can be substituted, including green beans, broccoli florets, cauliflower, corn, yellow squash, chayote, mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, zuchinni, peppers etc. I find that two vegetables combined with onions give a good flavor balance. Choose the vegetables and herbs to compliment each other and to carry over a theme for the meal. For example, peppers, beans and squash or corn suggest Southwestern flavors and would go well with cilantro, oregano or sage as the herbs. Or use broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and basil for an Italian flair.

John Tullock is an expert gardener and self-taught cook who likes to develop new recipes using his own fresh produce and the best from the local market. His interest in plants and horticulture begin in childhood, and he holds a masters degree in biology from The University of Tennessee. He also co-owns "Native Sons Nursery," a retail business that specializes in rare ornamental and gourmet vegetable plants.

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