Cooking with Sam: Bring the garden indoors with fresh veggie recipes

With the gardens starting to produce, a few things are just better with fresh items. I have prepared this tart many years in the tea room. Usually I used tomato, but some use beets, and you can even use steamed squash. It’s very good any way you prepare it. If I did not have puff pastry, I used day-old bread.

Lemony Beet or Tomato Tart

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. lemon zest

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 1/2 small tomato, beets or yellow squash

½ package puff pastry

2 oz. goat cheese

2 tsp. snipped fresh thyme, lemon peel or fresh rosemary, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add beets, tomato or squash and toss to coat. Divide the mixture into muffin cups or six 3.5-inch custard cups.

Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll pastry to a 12×10-inch rectangle. Using a 4-inch cutter, cut pastry into six circles. Chill until ready to use.

Remove pan from oven. Uncover beets and top each cup with a pastry cutout. Carefully tuck pastry edges into cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden brown. Cool on wire rack five minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together goat cheese and snipped fresh thyme or other herbs. Loosen the edges of tarts and invert them onto a serving plate, reassembling as needed.

Top with goat cheese mixture and add desired additional lemon zest and olive oil.

This is so good in the summer.

Ham and Asparagus Strata

8 spears of asparagus, fresh trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

5 cups of French bread cubes

2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese or goat cheese

½ cup fresh onion tops

8 oz. cooked ham or bacon

10 eggs

1.5 cups of whole milk

Fresh thyme or rosemary for topping

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Cook asparagus for five minutes. Drain and cool.

In a 3-quart baking dish spread half of the bread crumbs and top with cheese, onion, chives and half of the ham or bacon.

In a bowl whisk together four of the eggs and the milk and pour over bread crumbs.

Top with remaining bread. Press bread pieces into egg mixture with the back of spoon.

Top with remaining ham or bacon and asparagus. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Bake uncovered in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.

With the back of a spoon, press six indentations in top of strata. Pour a whole egg into each indentation.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes and cut into squares. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs.

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