It's funny how refinement of a palate can mean embracing the more rustic side to food. When I first began cooking, I thought that French food was a paradigm to strive towards. I realized that the food I still loved most was uncut edges and cracked tops. In some ways, it's a lack of stress in baking, a lackadaisical approach to the homemade that still intrigues me. It's the extra butter, the egg wash that tans, and the layers of hearty flavors that I gravitate more towards.
Recipes like this are more my style, and I learned that through the trial and error of hubris and pretension when it comes to cooking.
I look to the Midwestern casseroles my mother made, how economical and in different shades of cheddar cheese and golden potatoes. I think of how they stayed on the oven top to be picked at throughout the day with fingertips and by the forkful. I think about how natural it was to look at food for how it felt and not what it always looked like. If that was a lesson my mother taught me, it was in the space between conscious need and survival instinct: get dinner on the table and get laundry done and go to sleep for tomorrow.
So I've taken what came so natural to me and added a few French elements and came up with this tart - cracked and rustic and good throughout the day. With the help of Maille and Silpat, it was an instant hint when the in-laws came over to help with yard work this weekend and I remember how far we've come together, my partner and I.
Salade Nicoise Slab Tart
- 2 medium-sized Yukon Gold or similar potato
- 15-20 green beans
- 2 eggs + 1 for egg wash
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 TB lemon zest
- 2 teaspoon Maille mustard (I used their acacia honey and orange blossom for a brighter flavor against the fish)
- 5 cornichon, minced (Here I used their Cornichons with cayenne chili for some heat)
- 1/2 TB shallot or garlic (or a combo), minced
- 2 cans of high quality tuna, drained
- 1/2 heirloom tomato, sliced
- 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- Preheat oven to 425*F and lay out your baking sheet with your Silpat
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, simmer potatoes, green beans, and 2 eggs for 8 minutes
- While those are boiling, whisk together oil, zest, mustard, cornichons, shallots/garlic until well blended
- Pour over tuna and stir
- Shell eggs when everything is cool to the touch
- Roll puff pastry out onto a floured work surface and lay a layer of green beans, then potatoes, egg, tuna, and tomato. Repeat with remaining ingredients, leaving about an inch margin
- In a small bowl, whisk together additional egg yolk with a TB of water and brush a bit around the edge of the bottom puff pastry
- Place second sheet on top, pressing edge with a fork and crimp a bit to keep its shape
- Brush top with more egg wash
- Bake for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown