I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reacquainting myself with my vegetable plot this year having given it a wide berth for a while, why you ask? Frustrated to say the least with the battle of copious slugs and French partridge! Time is a great healer and a little more giving these days which has definitely helped.
Courgettes are particularly easy to grow and boy do they flourish fast. However all gardeners face a glut at some point which appears to be my challenge at the moment. My task for the coming weeks is to come up with several ways in which to utilise them.
Option one and there will be more, a great prepare ahead tart, serve warm or cold with a salad or two is a great vegetarian meal for family and friends.
Herby Courgette & Feta Tart
- 40 g Parmesan (25g for pastry) grated
- 220 g plain flour
- 4 ½ Tbls water ice cold
- 110 g Butter salted
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 450 g courgette slice 50g, grate the remainder
- 3 Tbls Olive oil
- Small bunch of dill chopped
- Small bunch mint finely sliced
- 160 g feta
- 1 bunch spring onions washed a dark green part removed
- 75 g ricotta
- 225 ml whole milk or single cream
- 4 eggs medium
- Aleppo pepper or 1/2 fresh red chilli sliced
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas 6 Lightly grease the base of a 28cm tart tin with butter.
- By hand rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl. If using a food processor pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the cayenne and 25g Parmesan and finally the water, by hand work until it all comes together. In a processor pulse until it just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a neat ball. Wrap in greaseproof paper and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
- Dust a little flour on your work surface and begin by rolling the pastry out evenly into an approximate round until it’s roughly 5cm bigger than the tin. Carefully flip it over the rolling pin and place in the greased tin. Tease into place and leave the excess edge to trim after baking. Prick the base with a fork and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Thinly slice approximately 40g of courgette very thinly with a knife or a mandolin. Set to one side. Coarsely grate or cut into julienne with a mandolin the remaining courgette. Place the grated courgette in a colander followed by the sliced and sprinkle with a level teaspoon of salt. Leave to drain for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and line the tin with baking beans. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and trim the excess pastry with a microplane.
- Thinly slice the spring onion. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the grated courgette and gently dab the sliced courgette with kitchen paper. Heat a frying pan with two tablespoons of olive oil to medium high, add the the spring onions and fry until softened, now add the grated courgette, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add some freshly ground pepper, it shouldn’t need salt. Remove from the pan and set to one side. Add the remain olive oil, add the sliced courgette and briefly fry until lightly coloured. Remove from the pan.
- To assemble the tart, scatter the grated courgette in the pastry case, followed by the feta, crumble over the top and finally scatter the herbs. Into a medium bowl crack the eggs and whisk lightly, now add the ricotta and milk or cream, whisk again, add a grind of pepper.
- Pour the egg mixture into the pastry case, arrange the slice courgette on the top, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and a good pinch of Aleppo pepper or sliced chilli.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Use goats' cheese or taleggio as an alternative.