from one generation to the next
The mealy, rustic pastry I have stolen from a tomato tart recipe in my 1979 edition of Jane Grigson’s “Vegetable Book”. Grigson was a contemporary of Elizabeth David. Both discovered Mediterranean cuisine at a time when the British were still constrained by post war rationing. I have been inspired by this book and it’s mate Jane Grigson’s ” Fruit Book” for most of my cooking life. They are brilliant references when you have fruit or veg to hand and you’re stuck for ideas. They are laid out alphabetically A is for artichoke and so on. There is also a comprehensive appendix of basics, stuffings, batters and breads included. This short crust is wonderfully versatile. For fruit tarts, add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar to the flour.
My savoury filling has a more modern and local provenance. I was inspired by a tart I spied n a local cafe. I just loved the way it looked.
I know any self respecting Frenchman would roll over in his grave at my use of milk rather than cream in the custard. I prefer the lighter result, and this is afterall, an Australian savoury tart.
125g fine oatmeal
125g plain flour (I use spelt)
125g cold butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven, bottom element only to 180C. Grease a 20cm deep flan tin.
In the jug of your processor blitz the flour, oats, butter and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until the mixture forms a clump. Alternately rub the butter into the flour by hand for the same result, then stir in the egg. Do not over mix.
Press the dough into the tin being sure to smooth away all the cracks. Be careful not the make the dough too thick around the bottom edge.
There may be a small amount over, especially useful to make a lattice topped sweet fruit tart.
Chill the dough in the tin while you prepare the filling. After you have cracked the eggs and before you whisk them, dip a pastry brush into the egg white and brush over the inside off the pastry shell. This will seal the pastry in the oven and prevent custard leakage.
200g fresh young spinach leaves
2 spring onions, sliced
1 cup milk ( I use low fat, lactose free milk)
Salt and pepper to taste
60g feta cheese crumbled
2 large Roma tomatoes each cut into sixths vertically
Extra 30g feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Blanch the spinach, then squeeze out as much water as you can. Roughly chop the spinach and scatter over the tart base. Top with the spring onions.
Divide the tomatoes into sixths lengthwise, then lightly sprinkle with salt pepper and a little dried oregano
Lightly whisk the eggs with a fork, add the milk then whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper, then pour the custard into the pastry shell and scatter 60g feta over. Do not overfill the tart shell. Allow about 1cm of space at the top for the tomatoes.
Place in the centre of the oven until the custard begins to set around the edges, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, arrange the tomato wedges on top of the tart, scatter the remaining feta cheese over the tomatoes then top with the oregano. Return the tart to the oven and continue cooking until the custard is set and the cheese lightly browned, about another 30 minutes. Allow to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the edges.
Serves 6 with salad. Delicious hot or cold.