Leek and Greens Tart with Cornmeal Crust

March  7, 2011
Author Notes

When I started thinking about what would be my ideal savory tart, one of the first things that came to mind was the flavors of my favorite panade, which is from the great Paula Wolfert. So, I decided to try to create a tart that captures both the subtle warm flavors and the creamy, hearty feeling of the panade. I decided to forgo a custard filling to let the leeks, greens, and sumptuous Cantal cheese really be the stars. But, I couldn't help but use a bit of egg and creamy mascarpone to bind everything together. The crust is almost a cross between a pate brisee and a short crust - inspired by Kate Zuckerman's flaky tart crust - with some cornmeal to give it wonderful homey texture and flavor. Being sure to leave the butter in pretty large pieces, which I actually find easier to do when making a crust by hand, gives for a wonderfully tender crust, not at all weighed down by the cornmeal. Eat this tart warm or at room temperature, accompanied by a nice green salad. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Nothing heralds the arrival of autumn like a rustic tart, the perfect centerpiece to any harvest table. This innovative cornmeal version, brimming with delicate leeks and hearty greens, is reason alone to turn your oven back on. - Kukharka —mitschlag

  • Serves 6-8
  • Cornmeal pastry dough
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (yes, I know that's a lot, but just trust me, you'll be glad!)
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water, plus a couple Tbs. more as necessary
  • Leeks and greens tart
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and tough stalks removed (you could also use another winter green, if you'd like, kale is just my favorite)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 3 medium leeks, washed well and thinly sliced - just the white and light green portions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup oacked grated Cantal cheese (or Gruyere)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • prepared cornmeal tart crust
In This Recipe
  1. Cornmeal pastry dough
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and nutmeg.
  3. Add in the butter, then working quickly rub it in with your fingers or cut it in with a pastry cutter until it is mixed in and you have lumps about the size of peas. Stick this flour and butter mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes (this is a step that I discovered accidentally by being called away from the kitchen, and have found that it really enhances the final texture of the pastry).
  4. Take the flour-butter mixture out of the fridge. Stir in the quarter cup water with a fork until the dough just comes together into a bunch of large dough clumps. Add more water 1 Tbs. at a time as needed to form the dough. Gather the pieces together and press them into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one slightly lager than the other, flatten them into discs, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.
  5. When you are ready to make your tart, take the larger dough disc out of the fridge. If it is too hard to roll, let it sit at room temperature 5-10 minutes, but you don't want it to get too soft. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece of dough out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lightly drape the rolled dough over a 9-inch round tart pan, press it into the pan and trim the edges. Wait to roll out the other piece of dough until the tart is filled.
  6. Line the bottom crust with parchment or foil and weight it. Bake in a 425F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, remove the weights and lining, return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Then, set aside.
  1. Leeks and greens tart
  2. Put kale and garlic cloves in a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes. Allow to cool just enough to handle, then chop the kale well and smash the garlic to a paste.
  3. In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the leeks. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium, then turn the heat to medium low and cook until the leeks are a lovely soft golden pile, about another 20 minutes. Turn the heat back to medium, stir in the kale and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until the flavors have mingled and any extra liquid has cooked off.
  4. Transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the Cantal cheese and lemon juice. At this point you can also preheat your oven to 350F. Taste the kale mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in the eggs and mascarpone until everything is well combined.
  5. Spread the vegetable and cheese mixture into the prepared tart crust. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the second piece of dough into a 9 inch circle (use a pie plate to trace and trim it into a perfect circle), cut a shape or slits in the top and lay this over the tart filling. You don't need to seal the top crust with the bottom, leaving a space gives the tart another air vent, and adds aesthetic interest. If you prefer, you could also use the second piece of dough to make a lattice-work top. Or, if you want an open topped tart, then just save the second piece of dough for something else (actually you can cut it into little squares and bake it and it makes awesome crackers!).
  6. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your oven to catch any drips, and place the tart on the middle shelf. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and fragrant. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove the tart pan rim.
  7. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.