By this point in the summer, most of us either have more zucchini and more basil than we know what to do with, or know someone desperately trying to unload some of their zucchini and basil on everyone they know.
Which is where this tart comes in – inspired by one of my favourite vegetarian pizzas and the overwhelming amount of enormous (and cheap!) zucchinis offered up by the farmers’ market these past couple of weeks, it’s created by layered thinly sliced zucchini onto pesto-slathered puff pastry, then sprinkling the whole thing with tangy crumbled feta and shreds of fresh basil.
And I didn’t use just any old feta, either. No sir, I used Lemon Fetish from Fifth Town, a Prince Edward County based cheesemaker that produces some downright addictive artisan cheeses, among them this creamy sheep’s milk feta that’s bathed in lemon juice and then rolled in a lemon zest and red fife mixture to further infuse it with the levels of citrusy flavour needed to satisfy the most fanatical of lemon lovers (ie. me). It’s a lovely partner for many summer vegetables, like beets, carrots, beans, cucumbers and (obviously) zucchini.
In fact, because I just can’t get enough lemony freshness, I also decided to use lemon basil as the base for my pesto and again in the topping, and finish by sprinkling the tart with lemon zest. Sure, I might be a little obsessed with lemon, but at least I’ll never have to worry about scurvy.
The end product of all these layers of summery ingredients is a fresh and flavourful tart that’s as beautiful as it is delicious. Pair it up with a simple salad, some crusty bread and a dish of oil-cured black olives for a light summertime supper or a knock-their-socks-off brunch.
(Needless to say, if you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere where Fifth Town cheeses are available, regular feta will do just fine.)
Zucchini, Pesto and Feta Tart
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (if frozen)
1/2 cup pesto
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tbsp good-quality olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Lemon Fetish feta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 9″x12″ baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a clean surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out the puff pastry so that it’s just slightly bigger than the prepared baking sheet. Careful transfer onto the baking sheet, folding the edges back in to create a 1/2″ border. Spread the pesto onto the pastry, leaving the border untouched.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the zucchini slices with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the slices on top of the pesto layer, overlapping them slightly as you go. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and grated Parmesan.
Lightly brush the edges of the tart with beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden, and the zucchini are just starting to brown around the edges.
Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving, adding a scattering of chopped basil and lemon zest at the last minute.