There's something easy yet elegant about tarts. They are the little black dress of the pastry kitchen, the sophisticated city cousin of rustic, country-style pies.
And they make a fine alternative to the age-old Easter ham-or-lamb conundrum - although you'll still have to make choices, such as sweet or savory; main course or post-holiday buffet snack; regular or puff-pastry or gluten-free crust; fluted pan, pastry ring or free-form on a baking sheet.
Each of the five accompanying recipes can be made in advance. The tarts that need reheating will look just as nice as the day you made them. Present a few on a wooden cutting board with a big, beautiful salad, and lunch is served.
Willis is the author most recently of "Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company."
Simple and Savory Sweet Potato Tart
Makes one 12-inch tart (12 servings)
This is an easy crust for baking novices because it's made in the food processor. Shortening does not melt as readily as butter does and makes for a more forgiving dough; here, a combination of the two is used. To save time, pre-made pie dough can be used, but the flavor - and satisfaction - just won't be the same; reduce the baking time to 20 minutes.
For a more attractive result, select a sweet potato whose diameter is If desired, top or pair the tart with tender spring arugula tossed in a light vinaigrette for a bit of fresh, peppery bite.
MAKE AHEAD: The tart dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The rolled-out tart dough needs to be refrigerated for 30 minutes. The tart can be made several hours in advance and kept at room temperature; reheat in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes. From Georgia cookbook author and cooking instructor Virginia Willis.