We've elevated an ordinary carrot tart with show stopping carrot roses and the savory decadence of Moroccan spices and preserved lemons. A vegan pesto using the carrot greens creates the base for the tart.
Preserved lemons are actually very easy to create and they are one of my absolute favorite ingredients to cook with. They add delicious layers of acid, salt and a bit of fermented funk to everything from salad dressings to pasta. All it takes is lemon, salt and time to create them but I keep a jar of these preserved lemons from Villa Jerada handy for when I my supply has run low or I'm looking for something more authentic. Jerada uses Beldi lemons from North Africa which have a unique aromatic flavor and floral notes as well as a very thin skin that allows you to sue the entire lemon. The lemons most available in the US have a thick pith that remains bitter after preserving. To use them in this recipe scrape the yellow part of the peel away from the white pith with the back of a knife or a spoon if they are soft enough. If you can find Meyer lemons you'll have a better result but of course the flavor of Meyer lemon is a tad sweeter.
You don't need to create the pretty carrot roses to make this recipe, you can just roast them whole and lay them on top of the tart. If you're looking for a more wow factor and you've got them time it's highly worth creating the roses. To create them simply use a vegetable peeler to create long strips and roll the strips into little roses, layering several peels on top of each other until you get one about golf ball size. Any color carrot will work but the multicolored carrots are the most eye catching if you can get them.
1 frozen puff pastry thawed (there are several vegan brands)
1 bunch of large carrots, tops reserved (the thicker they are the easier the roses are to make.)
2 small leeks (ends and dark green part trimmed off)
1 large fennel bulb sliced lengthwise, to cut off and fronds reserved
1 whole bulb garlic, top cut off
1/2 a preserved lemon. Center scooped out for the pest, peel sliced very thinly.
Cut the leeks lengthwise and put them in a bowl of water to rinse off any dirt. Once rinsed completely cut them again lengthwise and lay them cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Using a vegetable peeler, create long strips out of the carrots. Using your fingers roll the strips into roses, adding several peels on each rose until it is about the size of a golf ball. Place them on the same baking sheet very close together so that they do not fall apart.
Cut the fennel bulb lengthwise into strips, reserve the fronds to use as a garnish. Lay the fennel bulp strips on the baking sheet.
Cut the top off of a bulb of garlic and lay it on the tray with the vegetables.
Drizzle all of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until beginning to brown.
Roll out the puff pastry dough to 1/4" thickness and lay in an ungreased tart pan or cake pan. prick holes in the center of the tart with a fork and crimp the sides up the sides of the pan.
When you remove the vegetables, put the pastry in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until just beginning to brown slightly.
Meanwhile create the carrot green pesto. Toss all the ingredients of the pesto into a blender. Take the roasted garlic bulb from the vegetable tray and squeeze the roasted cloves out of the bulb and add to the blender. Blend on high until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
Remove the puff pastry and push down the middle with the back of your fork if it has puffed up. Using a spoon smooth a layer of pesto on the center of the tart. You will only use a small amount of the pesto. Reserve the remaining pesto.
Carefully arrange the carrot roses around the tart, leaving a little space between. Take the roasted leek and fennel strips and gently wrap them around the carrot roses, tucking them between the roses. Gently tuck the slivers of preserved lemon around the carrots.
Sprinkle the assembled tart with 1/4 teaspoon nigella and put back in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown.
Drizzle more of the remaining pesto on top and add the fennel fronds around the top. Serve with remaining pesto and harissa yogurt.