Even though I find myself in Southern California these days, I must be one of those over-educated, east coast liberals because I remain steadfastly loyal to the New York Times, right down to its food section. Sure, I tried to embrace the LA Times food section, but inevitably, I return to my old stand-by, looking forward to the latest from the Minimalist and Melissa Clark every Wednesday morning and the newer “Recipes for Health” column on Tuesdays. (Speaking of which, is it kosher to count a jaunt through the food section as keeping up with current events online at work?)
On the whole, I’ve had good luck with the New York Times’ recipes, from my beloved no-knead bread (both of the speedy and non-speedy varieties) to the scrumptious red lentil soup with lemon to the carb and cheese lovers’ dream corn bread and broccoli rabe strata. When a recent series of “Recipes for Health” focused on the sweet potato coincided with an entire crate of sweet potatoes falling into my lap, it seemed like a perfect match. I first tried the recipe for salad greens with sweet potato croutons– simple and delightful, the finished product was much more than the sum of its parts.
Next on the agenda was the free-form tart, essentially a savory galette. Have I mentioned that I love a galette? I almost never make a pie, intimidated by making an aesthetically perfect crust, but the rustic beauty of a galette seems well within my abilities. How unfortunate, then, that this galette was anything but beautiful. Visually, it was wholly unappealing- I won’t try to describe its appearance, suffice to say that there’s a reason the photo wasn’t an extreme close-up. Food porn, this isn’t.
Dylan, for one, couldn’t get past the appearance and was so turned off by it that he refused to eat more than one piece, leaving the remaining seven for me. For the more intrepid among us who could look past its ugliness, the taste was fine. Nothing too exciting, but I can’t turn up my nose at anything that incorporates yummy sweet potato and a flaky, buttery crust. It was definitely a bit dry, a bit homogenous, making it overall a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps those more talented at tweaking recipes could make this into something a bit more special and a bit more attractive?
Free-form sweet potato tart (serves eight)
Butter for greasing baking sheet
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and grated, about 4 cups
Savory pie crust dough, chilled but not rolled (use your favorite, or the NYT one here).
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large rimless baking sheet or line it with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Put oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 or 3 minutes; add garlic, stirring constantly, and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in chili powder and tomato paste. Cook and stir until fragrant, less than a minute; then toss with sweet potatoes. Set aside.
3. Roll pie crust into a circle at least 12 inches in diameter; it is O.K. if it’s not perfectly round. Use rolling pin to transfer it to prepared baking sheet. Toss sweet potato mixture again; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Carefully spread it on crust, leaving about 3 inches free all the way around edge. Fold sides up over filling. You should have a big circle open in top. Press down gently to flatten tart a bit.
4. Bake tart until crust is nicely browned and insides are bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool a bit before slicing or serve at room temperature.