When it comes to shedding pounds in the new year, it pays to shave any calorie you can. Even when you're indulging.
With pies and tarts, the crust often is a serious caloric offender. Pastry crusts often are loaded with butter or shortening. But there are ways to lighten the load.
Paper-thin phyllo dough, perhaps best known from the honey and nut filled Greek dessert baklava, can make a delicate and flakey crust that works as well for savory dishes, such as quiche, as it does for sweet treats such as fruit pies or strudels.
To use the tissue-like dough, you must brush or spray small amounts of oil or butter between the layers as you stack them to make a crust. Cooking spray is the easiest - and most calorie-conscious - way to do this.
Eight or 10 layers usually are enough. And, to make it easier to work with, you can use two sheets at a time. Phyllo crusts also offer a time savings, as they don't need to be pre-baked.
Packages of phyllo dough can be found in grocers' freezer sections, alongside the frozen crusts and pastries.
Thinly sliced potatoes also make a wonderful savory crust. In this recipe, sliced Yukon Gold potatoes are baked to a crispy crust and filled with layers of melted cheese and plum tomatoes.
For the best flavor, a full-fat Gruyere cheese is blended with reduced-fat cheddar. To make the dish even lighter, you can use only reduced-fat cheese. Serve this dish with a salad of crisp lettuce and slices of crusty Italian bread.
Potato, Tomato & Cheese Tart
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (45 minutes active)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
4 cups thinly sliced unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
5 large plum tomatoes, halved crosswise, seeded and thinly sliced
Heat the oven to 425 F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
In a small bow, combine the cheeses and set aside.
Place the potato slices in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over low, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, then stir in the salt and pepper.
Uncover the potatoes, add the oil and garlic from the skillet, then gently mix with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with a new piece of plastic wrap and microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the potato slices are tender but not falling apart.
Arrange a layer of overlapping potato slices first around the sides of the prepared pie pan, then over the bottom. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over the potatoes.
Top the cheese with half of the tomato slices. Arrange the remaining potato slices in a layer over the tomatoes, then top with the remaining cheese. Arrange the remaining tomato slices on top.
Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pie, then cover it tightly with foil. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the potatoes at the center feel tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
Uncover the pie and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the potatoes on the outside of the pie are golden and the tomatoes on top are slightly wrinkled. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 259 calories; 113 calories from fat; 13 g. fat (6 g. saturated; 0 g. trans fats); 33 mg. cholesterol; 23 g. carbohydrate; 13 g. protein; 2 g. fiber; 611 mg. sodium.