Zucchini, Bacon and Pecorino Tart
Puff pastry, fresh zucchini and salty pancetta is a combination that is almost impossible to resist. I sometimes add a few saffron-hued zucchini flowers on top, mostly because I think they look beautiful, though they are by no means essential.
- Yield: Serves 6
1 package (395 g) prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
4 medium or 3 large zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
A generous pinch of salt
½ cup cubed pancetta
3 large eggs
¾ cup whipping cream
⅔ cup grated pecorino cheese
5 to 6 zucchini (squash) flowers (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a little butter or oil, then dust it with flour until well coated.
2. Roll out the puff pastry into a large circle and drape it over the tart pan. Press the pastry into the nooks and crannies, then roll a rolling pin over the top to cut away the excess pastry. Cover the pastry with a sheet of parchment paper and fill it with baking beans or weights. Set the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until dry to the touch. Remove from the oven, discard the parchment paper and baking beans, and bake for 3 to 5 minutes more to crisp up the base.
3. Meanwhile, roughly slice the zucchini into rounds 1 inch thick. Drizzle the olive oil into a large saucepan, set on medium heat, and add the zucchini and salt. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini begin to colour very lightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Toss in the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the pancetta is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes more.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and cream with a fork, then whisk in the cheese. Season with a little salt. Allow the pancetta and zucchini mixture to cool a little (so that it doesn’t cook the eggs), then add it to the eggs and cheese, and toss well.
5. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry shell. If using, open the zucchini flowers very gently and pull out and discard the stamens. Then arrange the flowers on the top of the pie, gently pressing them into the filling. Bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden on top. It’s delicious eaten warm from the oven or at room temperature.