Seasonal Eating | Beetroot & Feta Tart
My youngest was invited to a friend’s birthday party recently and I have to say, I did breathe a sigh of relief when I saw it was to be hosted in their family garden rather than noisy soft play. While the chaos of a dozen four-year-old boys tearing around can’t be denied, there’s something extra lovely about a simple party with outside space to let off steam. This recent party was made all the better by the adult food table groaning under the weight of plentiful homemade quiches and delicious salads. After rounds of pass-the-parcel and musical statues, we strolled home, him clutching a piece of birthday cake and me a recipe for a beautiful quiche. This quickly sparked a memory of a tart I had made many moons ago which despite being utterly delicious had completely slipped my mind. You can imagine what we ate for dinner the next evening…
That’s the thing I love about quiches and tarts. They are perfect for many situations, be it a special celebration or an everyday meal. A fabulous sharing dish, quiches can be easily adapted to suit a variety of dietary requirements and aren’t too complicated to make. I think they’re perfect for packing up in picnics, serving for tea on summer evenings with recently dug new potatoes and green salads and taking centerstage at parties. In fact, quiches are such crowd pleasers that a spinach, broad bean and fresh tarragon quiche was personally chosen by the King and Queen this year in the hope it would be the centrepiece to many coronation celebrations.
You know by now that we love to share seasonal eating recipes so it is with pleasure that I share my beetroot and feta tart recipe. The combination of sweet beetroot and salty feta in this tart is never disappointing and in spring and summer, beetroot is at its best so this is definitely a recipe to give a go this month. My usually beetroot-averse friend even tucked into a second slice for brunch recently, so don't let the beetroot worry you if you've not used it before. If you don't have the time or inclination to make your own pastry then don't put yourself under any pressure - this recipe works just as well with a block of shop-bought shortcrust pastry or even *whispers* a pre-made pastry case. I've tried it with both and while my pride levels were raised exponentially when serving a completely made-from-scratch tart, hunger was efficiently satiated whatever the pastry route!
How to Make Beetroot & Feta Tart
400g beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
60ml balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
120g feta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150ml double cream
For the pastry
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
50g cold butter, diced
2 tablespoons milk
Or 1 x 250g block of readymade shortcrust pastry
To make the pastry: sieve the flour and salt into a bowl; add the butter and rub the mixture together using your finger tips until you get a sandy, breadcrumb-like texture. Add the milk a little at a time and bring the ingredients together into a dough.
Cover and allow to rest in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
Lightly grease a 20cm loose bottomed tart tin. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a circle a little larger than the top of the tin and approximately 5mm thick. Line the tart tin with the pastry, taking care not to have any holes or the mixture could leak. You don't have to be a pastry chef here - I think the more rustic looking the better! Cover and rest for a further 30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 180°.
Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, add baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes, before removing the greaseproof paper and baking beans. Bake for a further 5 minutes until dry and pale golden. Remove from oven and leave aside to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add onions and a generous pinch of salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until softened.
Add the grated beetroot, balsamic vinegar, thyme leaves, brown sugar and water to the onions and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and tender. Cool the mixture.
Spread beetroot mixture over the tart base before crumbling over the feta cheese. Whisk the eggs and cream together, then pour into tart case. Scatter with extra thyme leaves.
Bake for 35 minutes or until set. If the pastry of your tart if browning, cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.