This dish was named by Dena, my niece who is studying abroad in Paris this semester. Dena is quite the fashion maven, and it was a blast eating around town with her, window shopping and relearning the metro under her tutelage. For our last night together, I made a zucchini, roasted tomato, and fresh mozzarella tarte**, which she aptly named “ghetto pizza”. This is a super easy recipe that even a busy fashionista like Dena could throw together!
(**In France, they call dishes both savory and sweet that rely on a crust as it’s base, a tarte.)
Recipe makes 1 tarte, in a standard 10” pie pan…
1 roll of prepared pastry dough OR 1 premade pie shell OR pâte brisée (recipe to follow below)
2 medium zucchini, cubed evenly
4 medium tomatoes, sliced evenly
4 medium balls of fresh mozzarella (or to taste), sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed or minced
1 large shallot or medium red onion, minced
Several sprigs of fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of dried thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
What & how to do it: This recipe is made in the following stages so it can be spread out throughout the day or completed all at one time.
Step 1. Make the pie shell
Step 2. Make the filling
Step 3. Assemble the pie and bake just so it’s warmed through and the mozzarella melts, then serve immediately!
Ingredient #1: THE SAVORY PASTRY DOUGH
I was super excited to find savory pastry dough sold in a roll in the freezer section of the chic mini-supermarché on Rue Lepic. I have not been as lucky locating a similar pre-made rolled dough here at home. While we do have frozen pre-formed pastry shells at the supermarket, I think these tend to be mostly tasteless and so they’re versatile enough be used for either sweet or savory pies. I find these shells most useful for making apple, pumpkin and pecan pies during the holidays when time is too short to make a crust from scratch. But if you do have the time, this recipe will benefit from making the pâte brisée from scratch.
Pâte Brisée: savory pie dough used for quiches and tartes
1 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
¼ TSP salt
7 TB unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 7 pieces
5-6 TB ice water
Pastry pan options range from something fitted with a removable bottom to a standard pie dish made of ceramic or a glass, any will work for this.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
The fastest and easiest way to make this dough is to just mix the ingredients together in a food processor fitted with a dough blade. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also do it by hand. At first the ingredients will appear as a coarse meal until you add in the water and then it will form into a dough ball. Roll it out on a floured surface and let it sit for 30 minutes wrapped in parchment paper or covered with a clean dish towel.
After fitting your buttered pie pan with the dough, put the pan into the fridge to rest for an hour while you make the rest of your ingredients. After an hour, prick the pie shell with fork tines and line it with aluminum foil then fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake in the center of the oven until the edges take on a golden color, about 10-15 minutes. Pull out the aluminum foil and cook the rest of the shell for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool and proceed with the rest of your assembly.
When you are done pre-baking your shell, turn the oven up to 425°.
Ingredient #2: THE ZUCCHINI
Cut the zucchini into cubes… basically slice it down the middle lengthwise, and then again, so it’s quartered. Slice into cubes, then set aside. It’s always good to cut veggies into the same size so they cook evenly, and at the same rate. If the veggies are all different sizes you end up with the smaller ones turning into sludge and the larger ones still crunchy.
On your stove top, using a medium flame, heat up approx 1-ish TB olive oil in a large sauté pan, add in the minced shallot (or red onion), and after 10 minutes add in 1 clove crushed (or minced) garlic. After about another 3-5 minutes, add in the cubed zucchini so that it is mostly one layer thick and sauté. Add in a pinch of dried thyme for the Provencal flavor, and salt & pepper to your liking. (If you want an Italian flavor, omit the thyme, and add a pinch of dried oregano instead.) Add in the finely chopped parsley when the zucchini is almost done cooking.
Cook the zucchini until the water has evaporated out of the pan and the cubes are juicy but not full of liquid. If you get too impatient and raise the flame, it will burn- slow and steady wins the race here. Make sure not to leave any water in the zucchini or you will have a soggy tarte later, yuck!
Ingredient #3: THE ROASTED TOMATO
Make sure that your oven is at 425° after pre-baking the tarte shell.
Slice your tomatoes fairly thin and evenly so that they’ll roast at the same rate. Spray a baking tray with a non-stick spray, or use a silicone mat so that they’ll slide off easily, then lay the tomato slices out in a single layer. Drizzle some olive oil onto the tomatoes and then sprinkle them with minced garlic, salt and pepper.
Pop this tray into your oven and let the water roast out of the tomatoes, for about 15 minutes. The round slices should dry out and get a little shriveled, but maintain their tomato shape. The drying process concentrates the tomato flavor so you don’t need a lot of it, and you won’t need any sauce to get the classic tomato flavor associated with pizza.
Ingredient #4: THE FRESH MOZZARELLA
I prefer fresh mozzarella over a block of salty, overly processed mozzarella any day; not that that salty block doesn’t have its uses. But fresh cheese works better for a fresh tart like this. Slice the cheese of your choice thinly so that it will melt quickly. When I made the tart in Paris, I used buffalo milk mozzarella and it was silky and amazing.
Fill your pre-baked tart shell with the zucchini, layer on the oven roasted tomatoes, and finally layer on the cheese. I drizzled a little olive oil over the cheese slices, added a pinch of salt and a twist of fresh pepper over the entire pie, just because I didn’t add that much to each ingredient when cooking prior.
Place your assembled tarte into your oven (at 425°) and cook just until the cheese is melted. This pie does not need to be piping hot.