27 August 2008

Zucchini, onion, and sausage tart

Yes, it's zucchini season again. The tomatoes have been long to ripen (they're off to a good start now and the weather is hot) and the eggplant aren't really overwhelming us, but the green and yellow summer squash are like Old Faithful. They are gigantic before you can get out there to pick them. The green beans are amazing this year too. Walt picked what must be close to a bushel of them yesterday.

Onions, sausage slices, zucchini, and cheese in a pie

But zucchinis. You can blanch and freeze just so many. You can also grate them raw and freeze them that way for making soup or quiches later. So what about a zucchini and sausage tart? I saw a recipe for one somewhere, and we adapted it to our own methods, preferences, and ingredients. Here it is.

I found these "already cooked, ready to brown" locally made, very
lean sausages from the Sologne at the supermarket a few days earlier.

It's pretty simple if you have a pie crust. You can make one or you can buy one. Then you have to "blind bake" it — bake just the crust itself in a pan, with foil or parchment paper laid over the crust and with some dried beans or rice or pie weights on top to hold the pastry down and keep bubbles from forming.

Slow-cooked onions on the bottom of the pie shell

Meanwhile, you chop up a couple of big onions — you need two or even three cups, chopped, I'd say — and cook them on low heat in olive oil or butter or whatever fat you prefer. Salt and pepper them. They need to be at least translucent or even slightly golden. You can always add a glug of white wine to the pan if you want. I did, and then I stuck in a bay leaf, put on the cover, and let them cook for 30 to 45 minutes on very low heat.

Zucchinis sliced thin on the mandoline
and blanched for a minute or two.

And while the onions are cooking and the crust is baking, slice up some sausage, pre-cooked, and some zucchini. Walt cut our zucchini using a mandolin, so the slices were very thin and very uniform.

Pre-cooked sausages all sliced up for the pie

The zucchini slices need to be blanched. That is, put them in boiling water for just a minute or two, with some salt, to soften them. Then scoop them out and put them into some very cold water to stop the cooking. Drain them.

Arrange the sausage slices on top of the stewed onions...

When the onions are cooked down, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid and oil, and then spread the onions on the bottom of the blind-baked pie crust. Layer the sausage slices in the crust over the onions, with the zucchini slices on top.

...and then arrange the blanched zuke slices over the sausage.

Another way to do it would be to lay in zucchini slices and sausage slices in a nice alternating pattern over the top of the onions. Whichever way you do it, drizzle or brush some of the onion drippings over the top.

Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top
before putting the tart in the oven.

Don't put on too much liquid, though. You don't want the crust to get soggy underneath. Then sprinkle grated Parmesan or some other cheese over the top of it all. Bake the pie for 20 minutes or so in a pretty hot oven — not hot enough to burn the crust, but hot enough to brown the top. It's all cooked already, so you are just heating it through and melting the cheese.

This was a collaborative effort but my role was limited to cooking the onions, grating the cheese, taking pictures, and writing it up. Walt is the pastry chef otherwise. He makes the crust and artfully arranges the ingredients in to appetizing patterns.


  1. That's a very original tart. And also beautiful. I appreciate so much the photos and the description of every step of the culinary masterpiece. I'll buy the piecrust as I'm not too good at pastry. I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to handle the rest. And probably take a photo, and send it to my much older sister (92), in Montreal, who still tells me, now and again, how to boil an egg...

  2. Claudia - LOL.

    Ken and Walt - great recipe, very useful. As you say, there's only so much zucchini you can freeze and a good new zucchini recipe is always welcome.

    Using coins instead of beans or pie weights is another good way to blind bake - they have the advantage of being good heat conductors, and are heavy but flow. We always have a pot of small change laying about that I can use in a pie crust.

  3. Claudia, I always enjoy reading your comments. I bet your sister is as nice as you are.

    Susan, I never thought of using coins as weights- I'm going to try that sometime.

    Ken, love the things you do with zukes! Would kielbasa work in this recipe? I think I could use the onions and zucchini with cheese and eggs to make a vegetarian quiche also. Your pie is simply beautiful.

  4. A thing of beauty, that tart, and a joy for at least two meals? Now I know what to do when friends start giving us their leftover zukes.


  5. Evelyn - Actually my older sister (Claire) is a treasure, and much nicer than I am. But sometimes to be the "baby" of the family is a bit of a chore, specially now that I am over 75. Hard to convince anyone, long distance, that I know a thing or two...

    Who wouldn't learn with Ken and Walt as Teachers-Chefs?

  6. Susan, two meals as a main course with a green salad. You could easily make the tart without the sausage, I think, or even substitute poached chicken or fish. It would be good. Coins are a good idea, but Walt has some ceramic pie weights he uses.

    Claudia, as you know Walt is the pastry chef. He throws a good pâte brisée together in the blink of an eye.

    Evelyn, yes, why not kielbasa. It's sold already cooked, isn't it?

  7. Having had a go at your collaborative efforts, as you put it, I can tell all your readers, that they are worth the trip. I would love to taste that tart.
    Claudia, my 23 year old daughter phoned me yesterday to find out how one made a hard boiled egg. And although I am far from being a good cook, --I just hate cooking-- boiled eggs are about the only things I can do without looking at a recipe ;)

    Ken, did you know that Kielbasa is the Russian name for saucisson! Just brought back my years of learning Russian


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