"No judging til you try it, I promise, you'll love it," I assure him and I was right. He did and so did everyone else who tried it. This incredible tart is another recipe from The River Cottage Veg Cookbook. I knew as soon as I looked at it that it would be a winner and it was.
Because I was lazy, I didn't make the pastry from scratch, but instead used the shortcrust pastry from Aldi, which was surprisingly delicious! I followed the rest of the recipe to a T, adding just a pinch of grated nutmeg. The result was sublime; a soft buttery velvet custard with caramelised spring onion and baby gem. Perfect served warm or cold, alone or with a nice salad - this will be a staple for my weekday lunches!
For the Pastry-
- 250g plain flour
- pinch of sea salt
- 125g chilled unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 75ml cold milk
For the filling-
- 1 tbsp rapeseed/olive oil
- 4 little gem lettuce hearts, trimmed and quartered
- 15g butter
- 2 bunches spring onions, trimmed and cut into chunks
- 100g Lancashire, medium cheddar or hard goat's cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 200ml double cream
- 200ml whole milk
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the pastry, sift flour and salt together, or blitz in a food processor. Add the butter and blitz or rub until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the milk little by little until the pastry comes together. Turn out onto floured surface and knead briefly to bring into a ball. Wrap and chill for thirty minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use it to line a 25cm tart tin. Line with foil and rice or baking beans and bake blind for fifteen minutes. After that time, remove foil and beans and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until starting to colour.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the quartered lettuce hearts, sprinkle with slat and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, turning once or twice until the cooked surface is golden brown. Add the butter towards the end, letting it melt then spooning it over the lettuces. Arrange the lettuce in the pastry case.
Reduce heat in pan and add the spring onions. Saute gently until just softened and scatter over lettuce in the tart case. Crumble or grate the cheese on top.
Lightly beat eggs, egg yolks, milk and cream and season generously with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the tart filling and bake for about 35 minutes until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.