Vegetables For Dessert (Roots Tarte Tatin)

Tarte Tatin is an upside-down tart with an official origin story fixing its provenance at a rural French hotel not long after the fall of the Second Empire. Traditionally made as a variation on apple pie, this recipe gives it a turn towards the savory. I’d made it for a late spring tea before in Indiana, but hit on this particular tart when we got a grip of particularly beautiful purple carrots in with our farm share from Lancaster.

Those boys on the left are carrots. For serious.
Those boys on the left are carrots. For serious.

Seizing beauty and simplifying the method from the magazine recipe down to a one-dish prep, I made this.

Winter Roots Tarte Tatin
inspired by Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin in Bon Appetit
2 medium sweet potatoes,
3 large carrots, any color, and
1 small white onion
⅓ cup white sugar
2 T water
1 T unsalted butter
1 T white wine vinegar (optional)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 sprig fresh sage, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
4 oz goat cheese
1 round of shortcrust (Mine is all-butter with just a spot of lard)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

You want to begin by peeling your vegetables and slicing them into rounds, not-too-thick, not-too-thin. For this tart, I used sweet potato, carrot, and white onion, but you can use any combination of root vegetables you desire. Set your vegetable slices aside.

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, combine sugar, water, and butter over medium high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved in the water and the butter has melted. Continue heating, giving it a quick stir on occasion, until the liquid is amber in color and large, soft bubbles roll over the surface of the skillet. This caramel will form the base of your upside-down tart.

Remove from heat and scatter chopped herbs over your caramel.

Optional step: At this point, you can also stir in a tablespoon of vinegar, if you like, for a bright note in your amber caramel. Bon Appetit recommends white wine vinegar, but apple cider vinegar can also bring out good flavors in your vegetables.

Arrange your vegetable rounds snugly in the skillet, letting them rest lightly in the warm caramel. Return to medium heat and cook until they begin to soften, and your onion takes on a light brown color, about 15 minutes. As your vegetables shrink down, you can add any of your leftover rounds into the skillet to fill in the gaps that will form.

Remove from heat. Crumble as much goat cheese as you like over your layer of vegetables. The cheese will give you a creamy saltiness between your vegetables and the pastry. Let the skillet stand.

Roll out your round of shortcrust to a 12 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. You can use a 12-inch round of puff pastry, if you prefer. Roll the crust over your rolling pin and place it over the skillet, pressing lightly into the warm layer beneath. Tuck and pinch any overhang around the edge of the crust.

Bake on the center rack of your oven at 400°F until the pastry begins to look dry, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove skillet and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a plate face down over the skillet and tip it over in one smooth motion, releasing your tart with the crust side down. It’s not as tricky as it sounds, trust.

Serve warm and glistening.