French Picnic Tart Recipe

This recipe is for an easy French appetizer that is is sure to please those in search of distinctive flavors; Salty olive tapenade, sweet leeks and creamy goat cheese all combine to one great taste when served on puff pastry. This tart is a good one to take along on a picnic as it tastes great warm or at room temperature.

Tapenade

Tapenade is a condiment from the south of France known as Provence. It is made by crushing olives and adding olive oil to obtain a spreadable paste. You can find tapenade made with both green and black olives. Other possible ingredients in a tapenade are: anchovies, lemons, capers, garlic and herbs. You could try making your own, but there are many very high quality products ready to go in a jar.

Beyond this recipe, here are some other easy ways to enjoy tapenade:

  • Simply spread on toasted French bread and served as an appetizer (try it with a Corsican Muscat for even more authentic southern French flavor).
  • As a dip for raw vegetables.
  • As an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat.

Leeks

The French love to cook with leeks and this recipe is a great place to start if you haven't tried them yet. When cooked; leeks mellow quickly and sweeten making them a great contrasting flavor in any dish featuring a salty taste. Be sure to follow these tips when cooking with leeks:

  • Look for leeks that are smooth with crisp green tops
  • Leeks will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about five days. You can freeze leeks by cleaning, slicing, and blanching them for several minutes in boiling water. Rinse them with cold water, drain, prefreeze on a tray for about 30 minutes, then put in freezer bags in handy amounts.
  • To clean a leek, you cut off the root base and most of the tougher green top. Then you need to rinse it well under running water, spreading apart the leaves at the top. There's usually some dirt trapped in there. Or you can slice the leeks (as in the recipe below) and then rinse with water.

Goat Cheese

Goat cheese is called fromage de chevre, or simple chevre in France, where you will find over a hundred varieties. Sometimes the goat's milk is mixed with cow's milk to create a mi-chevre. Pur chèvre contains only goat's milk. Goat cheese is fun - it comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and sometimes special little boxes.

For this recipe I used a log of goat cheese, which was easily sliced and distributed on top of the tart. You could try something different though, perhaps one that you could crumble on top.

Puff Pastry

You will frequently find puff pastry used in French recipes, both savory and sweet. While I am sure that there are some ambitious (and perhaps a bit crazed) home chefs that are quite ready to make their own, you can use a prepared puff pastry for this recipe. Here in France we can buy good quality puff pastry in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, but you may have to go all the way to the freezer section to find it depending on where you live. Please do look for a quality product with a minimum of ingredients. It should be made with flour, butter, salt and not much else.

Leek Tart with Green Olive Tapenade
Tarte aux Poireaux et Tapenade

  • puff pastry (to keep with the simple theme of this site, I use packaged puff pastry)
  • 4 to 5 leeks (if they are large you many need fewer)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 small (3 1/2 ounce) jar of green olive tapenade (if you can't find green tapenade, black olive tapenade will work as well)

1 "log" of goat cheese (about 8 ounces), cut in 1/4 inch thick rounds

Roll out the puff pastry into the shape you wish. Roll up the sides slightly and prick the bottom in a dozen places with a fork. Cook for 10 minutes at 400° C on a non-stick baking sheet. Remove from oven and cool.

Meanwhile, cut the roots and the greens off of the leeks. Slice the white part in 1/4 inch rounds. Steam them for 5 minutes (you can do this in the microwave if you wish).

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the leeks, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer just until the wine evaporates.

To construct the tart: spread the tapenade on the cooked pastry. Cover with the leeks and than evenly with the goat cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400°F or until the cheese has melted and started to brown on top.

Makes 6 servings

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About The Author, Kim Steele
Kim Steele writes for Easy French Food, where you will find many more easy French recipes. For another French appetizer try this Zucchini Fritters Recipe or if you liked the leeks here is another authentic French leek recipe known as Flamich. A bientot.