I wish I could tell you this was easy: An under-30-minute wonder perfect for busy weeknights.

I wish I could tell you it whips up in one pan, making clean-up a breeze.

But I can’t. I can’t lie to you.

What I can say is this tart is worth it. It’s worth the time it takes to chop and roast and roll and assemble.

I first made Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetable tart last October. It was part of my husband’s birthday buffet. Intended as a side, it stole the dinnertime show. People raved. They devoured four of these hearty, eggy, roasted veggie pies.

So yesterday morning, when the husband asked for eggs for dinner, I pulled out Yotam’s recipe.

It took me most of the afternoon to make it.

Sure, there are shortcuts. You could use a prepared, refrigerated piecrust. You could use pre-cut sweet potatoes. You could use roasted red peppers from a jar rather than roasting and peeling  your own. You could make the tart over a couple of days, as I did last fall.

But even if you don’t tap any of these time-saving methods, make this tart. Please.

I wouldn’t attempt Yotam’s pie during a busy, working weeknight. But on a lazy weekend or a summer vacation day? It’s perfect.

This is a dish that celebrates time. A dish that finds the sweet spot of a slower kitchen. Rather than making a mad dash for the 30-minute limit on dinner preparation, it forces a cook to pay attention: To build flavors ingredient by ingredient; to roast, saute and whisk; to layer and bake and deliver something to the table that’s both familiar and special.

I wish this was a simple meal. Then I’d know you’d try it. But trust me when I tell you that the time and effort required for this yummy tart are worth it.

I wouldn’t lie.

Yotam’s Yummy Tart

I clipped this recipe a few years ago from Bon Appetit magazine, just around the time Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook was hitting the States and he was making a name for himself here. I’ve included most of the original instructions but added some time-saving measures to accommodate busy lives. Please don’t be daunted by the number of roasting pans and dishes required for this pie: You’ll have ample time to clean as you go.

For the crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 10 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter, then process — using on-and-off turns — ’til the butter is finely incorporated into the dry ingredients.

With the machine running, add the water. Process just until the dough comes together.

Gather the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for an hour. (Clean your food processor during this time.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface. Line a pie plate with the dough, then freeze the pie plate for 10 minutes.

Wrap the pastry tightly with foil. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes. Cool completely.

TIME-SAVER: Buy a prepared pie crust. Bake as directed.

For the filling:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 11 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes TIME SAVER: Use 1 1/2 cups pre-peeled and -cut sweet potato
  • 2 medium red or yellow tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, divided
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Move the racks into the top and bottom thirds.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove the seeds.

Place the peppers in a small baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft and charred.

Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a paper bag for 15 minutes. Peel, then cut into strips.

TIME-SAVER: Buy 1 jar of roasted red peppers. Drain and cut into strips.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat it with nonstick spray.

Toss the eggplant with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then lay the eggplant on your baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet on the lower oven rack and roast for 10 minutes.

Gently stir the roasting eggplant and add the sweet potatoes to the pan. Roast an additional 20 minutes, gently stirring periodically.

Remove the eggplant and sweet potato to a bowl. Add the red pepper strips and toss gently.

Coat another baking dish with nonstick spray. Toss the tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then place the tomatoes skin-side down in the baking dish. Roast on your oven’s top rack for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Lower your oven’s heat to 350 degrees.

Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel. Season with salt and pepper, then saute for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain.

To assemble:

Place your piecrust on a lined baking sheet.

Layer the fennel and onions on the pie’s bottom.

Top with the eggplant, sweet potatoes and red peppers.

Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon thyme.

Crumble the goat cheese on top. Place the tomatoes around the goat cheese.

Whisk the eggs and cream in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then carefully pour the mixture around the vegetables. Top with the remaining thyme.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let the tart sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

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