- Amy Minichiello
Beetroot, Silverbeet & Blue Cheese Tart with a Walnut crust.
The shadows are dancing on the timber floor as the wind shakes the trees outside, to and fro, to and fro. There is a real chill to the air; its crisp and has been raining on and off since the early hours of the morning.
It's been a rather slow day so far and I am relishing in this opportunity rather than trying to fit in as much as I can into every possible minute. I do have quite the tendency to do this more often than I would like. Something I am forever working on in myself.
The last few days have had me feeling an anxiousness I haven't felt in quite some time. Do you ever get that feeling that your to-do list is washing over you like a raging river? It certainly didn't help that a little bug had decided to make itself at home and deplete the energy from not only myself but, Ben and little Beau bear too. leaving us with scratchy throats, runny noses and coughs! Thankfully we are all on the mend now.
So, today has been a welcome pleasure, made even more special as we took a stroll with my gorgeous cousin. There really is nothing quite like a bit of fresh Autumn air and good conversation to make one feel alive again. That, and good, comforting, nourishing food that feeds the soul. However, as I write this I am currently sipping on my 5th juice in a clear it cleanse, but that's another story.
I have made this tart many times, in fact it used to make an appearance on the odd occasion at the café when the time allowed for such luxuries as rubbing butter into flour. One of my most favourite forms of "kitchen meditation" it always takes me back to the times spent in my Granny's kitchen. Floured hands and happy memories.
I love the flavour that the toasted walnuts give to the pastry and it really complements the earthiness of the roasted beetroot and silverbeet. The blue cheese weaves its way through to surprise the tastebuds with its sharp, creamy melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. However, as I am aware that there are non-blue cheese lovers out there you can most definitely substitute it with either feta or goats cheese, whichever takes your fancy.
It really is a beautiful tart that is best shared with friends, just as we did a couple of weekends ago. Sitting around the table, talking, laughing and sharing stories in a long overdue catch up. Enjoying bowls of tummy warming soup with homemade flatbreads and wedges of this tart with dollops of choko pickles, a side of tomato, cucumber and basil was all that was needed to really let the ingredients shine. For me, this is what the good life is all about.
I should mention also that you can let your imagination run wild and get creative with the fillings, using what is in season at the time really makes it all the more special. Pumpkin, caramelised onion and goats cheese also work equally well as does mushroom and camembert.
Serves about 10 with some sides or a little less for very hungry humans!
For the pastry
100g toasted walnuts
350g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 free-range egg
a sprig of rosemary
Add the walnuts and rosemary leaves to a small food processor and blitz to a fine crumb. Pop into a bowl with the flour, salt and butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles course breadcrumbs. Add the egg and bring the dough together with your hands. Lightly flour your bench and knead the dough into a ball, very briefly just so that it all comes together. Pat it out into a disc and wrap in cling film. Place into the fridge to have a little rest for at least 30 minutes. Or, overnight. Just makes sure you take it out to reach room temperature again before rolling out.
Grease the base and sides well using a pastry brush, making sure you really get into all of the fluted edges of the sides and line the base of a 26cm loose-bottomed tart tin with baking paper.
When the pastry has finished resting, roll out in between two pieces of baking paper and then carefully place into the tin. The easiest way to do this is to take your rolling pin and roll the pastry onto it, then carefully roll it back down on top of the tin. If the pastry is quite soft or, if its a warm day place the pastry lined tin back into the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
Sit the tin on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Carefully place foil onto the pastry and push down so its sits flat, then fill with pie weights, or if you don't have these you can use rice. Place into the oven for 15 minutes then remove the weights and foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Or until the pastry feels dry to the touch, patch up any cracks with leftover dough.
For the filling
3 medium sized beetroots, topped and tailed and cut into wedges.
30g unsalted butter
4 free range eggs
310 ml full cream milk
125 ml thickened cream
60g blue cheese
200g truffle infused scamorza (if you cant get your hands on this then you could use feta or a dry ricotta and drizzle with a little truffle oil if you feel a little bit fancy) or even a good quality mozzarella would work well too.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, toss the beetroot wedges with a good glug of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender.
Wash the silverbeet really well, trim off the stems and then finely shred the leaves and remaining stems. Melt the butter in a large fry-pan then add the silverbeet and stir to coat it in all of the butter. Stirring occasionally, cook over a medium heat until it has all wilted down, this may take about 15 minutes. If your pan is not quite large enough to fit it all in, just cook it off in batches.
Turn the heat up for the last 5 minutes to reduce any of the liquid that may be in the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and let it cool down completely. I give mine a stir every now and then to let the steam escape and to cool down a lot faster.
Once its cooled, place half the amount of both cheeses into the leaves and mix well, then place on the bottom of the pastry shell. top with the beetroot and remaining cheese. Mix together the eggs, milk, cream, a pinch of salt and a grating of pepper and then pour this over the beetroot and silverbeet. Don't overfill it though, so don't worry if you don't use all of the egg mix. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is a lovely golden brown and feels just set. When you press down on the top there should be no liquid escaping, just gooey cheese.
Leave the tart to cool then remove from the tin. The easiest way to do this I have found is to sit it on top of a small bowl and then press the fluted edge down onto the bench, then slide the base off onto a serving plate. Serve with chutney or pickles and a simple little salad.
It can be made the day before and then just re-heated in the oven. It also freezes really well too and is a good one to have for those times when you just don't feel like cooking (however, that rarely happens to me anymore!!)