The weather can be capricious this time of year, but this savory tart, adapted from food writer Anna Jones’ new vegetarian cookbook, “The Modern Cook’s Year,” suits any shade of spring. Store-bought puff pastry is topped with mustard-spiked crème fraîche, swirls of zucchini, custardy eggs and an abundance of fresh greens.
A colorful mess of textures and temperatures, it embodies that long-awaited seasonal shift.
Thanks to a foundation of store-bought puff pastry, this tart is also fairly easy — ideal for a low-fuss Easter brunch. Purchased puff pastry is arguably just as good as homemade, especially if real butter is prominent on the ingredients list. (Many cheaper supermarket brands use oil instead of butter. Those versions will work fine, though the pricier, butter-laden options offer richer flavor.)
Jones’ book exemplifies seasonal cooking, though it flirts with fastidiousness. This adaptation of her recipe nixes shelling fresh fava beans for frozen peas and swaps delicate baby zucchini for larger pieces of zucchini for a more forgiving approach. Too often, baking whole eggs results in overcooking, but if you arrange slabs of zucchini into deep nests on the puff pastry and nestle the eggs inside, the zucchini will slowly steam the eggs until they’re creamy — and provide a buffer on timing.
You can cook the puff pastry and vegetables ahead of time, assemble and chill, then plop the eggs into their nooks just before baking. If you’d like, lose the mustard and crème fraîche and use mascarpone, garlicky Boursin cheese or even softened cream cheese instead.
To serve a crowd, bypass the eggs; add some cooked asparagus, fennel or other seasonal vegetables; and drape with prosciutto or smoked salmon. Garnish with whatever herbs are kicking around in your crisper and fistfuls of barely dressed arugula or mâche (lamb’s lettuce).
The takeaway is simple: Shift with the seasons, and spring cooking feels sunny and effortless.