FOOD FOR THE SOUL – Ultimate Vegetable Pastry with Herb Cheese
By CHEF BEVERLY LEE
If ever there was an award for best light, flavorful and colorful dish, my Vegetable Pastry with Herb Cheese would win hands down. The simple beauty of the vegetables combined with the earthy herb cheese and flaky, buttery and light pastry makes for the ultimate dish. Enjoy as a dinner course or a starter. Either way, you cannot go wrong — and your stomach will thank you.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced, well-washed leeks (white part only)
Salt & white pepper (optional)
1 lb Roma tomatoes
5 zucchini, sliced and tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt
5 ounces cream cheese
Fresh herbs (thyme, basil, parsley)
2 heads roasted garlic
Grated Parmigiano cheese
Lemon-infused olive oil or lemon zest or juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry dough to ¼ inch thick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill dough in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, and up to an hour.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks, a pinch of salt and white pepper. Cook, stirring as needed, until leeks have softened, about 6 minutes. Place cooked leeks in a bowl and set aside to allow them to cool.
Slice the tomatoes ¼ inch thick and lay rounds on a wire rack and sprinkle with salt, and set aside to drain for 10 minutes. Toss the zucchini again.
Combine the cheese, herbs, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper, 1 tsp olive oil and blend well. Squeeze each head of garlic over the bowl, pressing the soft cloves out the peel. Mix until cheese mixture is smooth and uniform.
Remove the pastry from the freezer, (it’s okay if it is frozen; it will thaw during assembly) and spread the cheese mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a border around the edges. Spread the sautéed leeks evenly over the cheese. Blot the tomatoes dry and arrange them in a circular pattern over the leeks. Arrange the zucchini slices in a circular pattern, overlapping the tomatoes slightly. Fold the border of the pastry up and over the edge of the tomatoes.