We’ve finally turned the corner into Spring! With that, I share this colorful red and golden beet tart that has hiding in its depths bits of roasted fennel and a layer of creamy ricotta cheese. For this tart, I took advantage of using early spring vegetables I found at the market, like the fennel bulbs and went with a lighter, healthier phyllo pastry crust. The recipe looks lengthy but it’s really easy to put together, just keep ready-made frozen phyllo pastry on hand, roast the beets and fennel ahead of time, and then store in the fridge. This pretty tart is fun to make and really delicious. Recipe follows
Roasted Beet & Fennel Tart
- 1 fennel bulb, washed and trimmed
- about 6-8 medium beets , both red and golden varieties, washed, trimmed and peeled
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh herb leaves such as thyme
- 1 cup of whole milk Ricotta, drained if very wet
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated hard cheese like cheddar or Gruyère (reserve 1/2 of the amount for the cheese topping)
- 2 T heavy cream (or yogurt), a little more or less to add to cheese mixture to make a smooth consistency.
- Phyllo pastry, thawed following package instructions, about 12 rectangular sheets (approx 1/2 package)
- 3-4 T melted butter for brushing the phyllo sheets
- fresh fennel fronds for garnish
Prepare roasted beets and fennel in advance
Preheat oven to 375º. Wash, trim and peel beets, wrap each in foil with a drop of olive oil place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Trim the fennel bulb, cut into quarters, place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Roast about 40-60 minutes until a knife inserts easily into beets and fennel is tender and caramelized. Cool and store in refrigerator until ready to use, up to 3 days in advance.
In a medium bowl add the drained ricotta and 1/2 of the coarsely grated cheese (about 1/4 cup), mix well. If the ricotta cheese is very thick add the cream (or yogurt) one tablespoon at a time to make a spreadable consistency. Season with salt and pepper, add fresh herb leaves– thyme or any herb would work well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tart.
Assemble the tart
Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper
Cut peeled beets into thin rounds, be sure to keep the yellow and red beets separate as you prep them so that the red beets won’t stain the yellow ones with their juice.
Chop the roasted fennel into a small dice and set aside in a bowl.
On the parchment lined baking tray you’ll layer about 12 sheets of Phyllo dough. Starting with placing the first sheet on the tray, brush with melted butter and place the next sheet on top lining up to the previous sheet. Repeat, brushing each layer with butter except for the last top sheet which you’ll place the filling.
Spread the cheese filling out evenly over the top sheet leaving about 1/2 inch edge of pastry all around. Scatter the diced fennel bits over the cheese mixture.
Start at one end and going lengthwise place beet rounds on top of the cheese filling, overlapping them in alternating colors, red, yellow and so on. Continue with the next row until you have covered the filling with beet slices.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of reserved grated cheese and fresh herb leaves over the top of the tart.
Place the tart in the oven, after about 5 minutes turn down the temperature to 375º. Bake about 20-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly and pastry golden. Let cool briefly.
Lightly drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, garnish with fresh fennel fronds and serve.