Of late, I've become increasingly sensitive to waste. Wasted clothing, wasted time, wasted paper, and especially wasted food. Most Saturday mornings I go through my fridge to assess what I need to shop for that day. This involves cleaning out food that's "past due" and that horrible sensation of throwing out and wasting what was once perfectly good food.
I've always hated doing this—my mother takes the motto of "waste not, want not" to epic proportions (she even re-uses underwear!)—but in a world where so many are in need from the ravages of storms, disasters, poverty, and more, it seems even more reprehensible.
So, when I saw that three forgotten Winesap apples I had picked up at the farmers' market several weeks ago were starting to soften and fade, I refused to render them refuse and, instead, decided to turn them into a tart. I also had some prepared frozen puff pastry in the freezer left over from recipe testing for a book I wrote on tarts, so there was yet another reason to make it happen.
With holidays on the horizon and Thanksgiving coming in two weeks, it's perfect timing, too. This tart is delicious and incredibly easy to make. In fact, it comes together in less than 30 minutes and could be prepared while the turkey is resting and baked while everyone's digging into their Thanksgiving feast, simultaneously perfuming the air with its heady aromas.
Normally, I'm not a fan of prepared pastry, but puff pastry is so complicated to make and is increasingly delicious prepared, so I say, go for it! I like Pepperidge Farm's the best. All you have to do is remember to defrost it overnight in the refrigerator or set aside 40 minutes for it to thaw at room temp. Tart/sweet, nutty, and rife with the aromas of cinnamon and vanilla, a warm slice of this tart practically begs for a generous scoop of best-quality vanilla ice cream. You can prep and assemble it a few hours ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator before baking. Bon appetit!
Easy Peasy Apple Walnut Tart
(Makes 6 servings)
- 3 apples (suggest a tart/sweet variety like Granny Smith or Winesap), peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- Seeds scraped from two fresh vanilla pods (or 1 TBS vanilla extract)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Generous pinch salt
- Generous pinch ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 sheet thawed prepared puff pastry
1 yolk mixed with a splash of cold water and a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pats
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Gently unfold the thawed pastry and place on the parchment, pressing with fingertips to gap any holes in the creases or elsewhere. Combine the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and walnuts in a medium bowl, tossing well with your hands to coat evenly. Arrange in the center of the puff pastry, spreading the filling out to all but the last inch of pastry. This should be left "naked," as it will puff around the filling to form the edges of the tart. Smooth out the filling with your fingers or a wooden spoon so it is even and about the same thickness all around. Scatter the butter pats on top of the filling, spacing evenly. Prepare the egg wash in a cup and brush the naked edges of the tart lightly with the wash, being careful not to let it slip under the pastry and onto the paper.
Bake in the center rack for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut and serve with a fat scoop of delicious ice cream. (Note: This tart is also delicious at room temperature or cold).