Autumn Courgette Tart

Cost: well, hard to say – this recipe was created to make use of the courgettes which are sprouting in the garden on an almost-daily basis, and other than that uses a scoop of flour, some butter/lard, an egg and a handful of cheese, so it would cost a pound or two at most, I think.

Another variation of the vegetable tart I’ve been making in one form or another throughout the year – a springtime version with the season’s new leeks and peas, a summer tart with perfect tomatoes (and another with imperfect tomatoes given a bit of help with other ingredients), and in its latest incarnation, a fresh-but-satisfying filling of courgettes sliced paper thin with flashes of gold from their delicate flowers.

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The tart uses the same pastry as the leek tart, but these days I make it with an increased ratio of lard to butter, but just a half-quantity, rolled out very thinly indeed. I’d make the full quantity in the food processor and then divide it into two when it goes into the fridge to rest; the other half, well-wrapped in cling film, will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

Pastry Recipe

(adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess)

125g plain flour
60g semolina, optional
1 Tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
70g lard, cubed
70g butter, cubed (for dairy-free, use baking margarine. It works with some or all of the lard replaced with butter depending on what you have on hand)
3-4 Tbsp iced water, to bind

1. Place all the ingredients except the iced water into the bowl of a food processor, and leave in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. During this time, grease the sides and base of a 23cm tart tin (ideally with a removable base), and prepare the ice water.

2. Sprinkle a tablespoon of ice water into the food processor bowl and pulse in short bursts until the texture turns sandy, then add water in half tablespoons, pulsing for about 10 seconds each time, until the pastry takes on the texture of gravel rather than sand, then carry on pulsing without adding more water – it should come together slowly and eventually mass into a smooth whole. We want to add as little water as possible to minimise shrinkage in the oven. Divide the pastry in half and press each one into a fat disc and wrap in cling film, then leave in the fridge to rest for 30 mins and preheat the oven to 200C, with a baking sheet inside.

Whilst things are preheating/chilling, start preparing the courgettes for the filling (see below).

3. Retrieve one of the cling-filmed pastry discs from the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of floured cling film, using short movements and turning frequently to ensure evenness and discourage the pastry from cracking, peeling off and replacing the cling film if necessary to prevent it tearing. Remove one layer of cling film and use the other to lift the pastry into the centre of the tart tin (cling film up!), then from the centre out, press the pastry into the tin, especially making sure to reach the corners. If the pastry is too soft to remove the other layer of cling film, put it in the freezer for another 10 minutes or so, and then carefully peel it away. Fold any excess pastry inwards over the rim of the tin.

Tart pastry (uncooked)

4. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork. No need to bake it blind (i.e. with foil and rice) because it’s such a thin layer. Slide the tart tin onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or so until golden. If you aren’t sure, I rather think that it’s better to go slightly over-baked, giving the pastry a nuttier flavour, than to under-bake and risk any unappetising sogginess.

Filling Recipe

3 small courgettes (or two medium supermarket ones)

2-3 courgette flowers, optional

2 small free-range eggs

100g grated mozzarella cheese (or other convenient amount)

Handful (about 30g) of garlic chives from the garden, or normal chives/spring onions

Handful of frozen peas, about 70g

Few basil leaves, optional

1. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the courgettes lengthwise into parchment-thin ribbons. Don’t worry if it gets too difficult to peel them by the ends – any thicker sections can just be chopped up roughly. Melt a little butter in a large frying pan and toss the courgette ribbons over the heat until they are just soft. Remove from the heat.

2. Meanwhile, remove the stamens and the green tendrils from the courgette flowers, and slice them into 1cm strips horizontally. Discard the bases of the flowers, and add the strips of courgette petals to the softened tangle of courgettes. Snip the chives into the courgettes as well, tear in the basil leaves and stir in the grated cheese and frozen peas (no need to defrost). Season well with salt and pepper.

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3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and then mix about three-quarters of the beaten egg with the slightly cooled vegetables in the pan. When the pastry base is baked, gently spread the eggy vegetables evenly over the base, and then pour the remaining egg over the top.

Uncooked tart

4. Reduce the heat to 180 and bake the tart for another 15-20 minutes or so until the filling is set and cooked all the way through.

5. Cut into generous wedges and enjoy.

Tart wedge

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2 responses to “Autumn Courgette Tart

  1. my sister loves courgettes so I’ll be sure to pass this recipe to her! 😀

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