Tasty Tart

A savoury tart or quiche, or whatever you want to call it is perfect fodder all year round. I think it is one of the best things you can possibly bring along to a picnic, as well as making a fab lunch with a side of some salad.  I have had a few tart mishaps with soggy bottoms et al, but I think I’ve finally ironed out the recipe and oven issues. The last two tarts were beauties – hurrah for perseverence!

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There are a lot of different pastry recipes out there, and I have experimented with loads, including herb-enriched versions and those lower in fat or made with vegetable oil. However, I still think plain old shortcrust is the best foil for the rich filling, and I’ve outlined how I like to make mine underneath.

I prefer making this sort of shortcrust pastry by hand as it’s easy to overmix it in the food processor, and that makes the pastry turn out tough. I might compare the difference between handmade/food processor pâté sucrèe at some point too, but I suspect that it makes less of a difference there.

You can mix and match the filling to contain whatever ingredients you like, although I have a few stock favourites. It’s also a fab way of clearing out the fridge of any leftovers or odds-and-ends.

This tart can be easily adapted to make a lighter version. You can do this by changing the pastry to a lighter version that has a lower proportion of fat, and replacing the double cream with single cream or milk.

Savoury Tart

For a 23cm tart

For the pastry

  • 75g salted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 egg, loosely beaten

For the filling:

  • bite-size pieces of cooked meat or fish
  • a handful of green leafy veg, such as sprouting broccoli or spinach
  • 1/2 leek or 1 onion, washed and sliced into rings
  • 2 spoonfuls of plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g grated hard cheese
  • ground black pepper

Make the pastry first. Rub the butter into the flour until it is breadcrumby, then add the egg little by little and mix together with a knife until it clumps. In a few swift movements, press together into a dough. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200˚C. Make your filling. Sautee the leeks in a little oil until they are soft, then add the ham and stir in the flour. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool, then mix in the eggs thoroughly. Then add the cream and mix in, followed by half the cheese. Season well with pepper.

Roll out the pastry and line the tart case. Trim the pastry with a sharp knife, and reserve the scraps. Chill again in the fridge for 15 minutes, or the freezer for 5 so the pastry is firm.

Stab the base of the pastry case well with a fork. Sprinkle the base liberally with grated cheese so it forms a waterproof seal between the filling and the pastry.

Put the tart into the oven and lower the oven temperature to 180˚C. Bake the pastry case for 15-20 minutes until it is very lightly coloured and pulls away from the sides of the tin. Spoon in the filling. Return to the oven and bake for another 30-40 minutes at 180˚C until the top is golden-brown. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before unmoulding and cutting. It is excellent cold.

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