Summertime means garden lunches, which in turn means savoury tarts. Despite the range of options in the category, they all serve largely the same function in a meal; being a nicely filling but not too heavy option that takes up most of the plate, requiring only a few simple salads on the side.
They’re also very impressive and feel like a proper, filling meal, which means that in this instance, a vegetarian version will be just as warmly received by all guests as something with meat would be, which is not always the case for summer entertaining, with its focus on barbecued skewers, burgers and steaks.
All sorts of tarts fit the brief for this role, and I wouldn’t want to pit them against each other. A heritage tomato and feta tart with mint is just as perfect as a classic quiche Lorraine made with impeccable farmers’ market ingredients; the only thing that differs is the mood (or the ingredients in the fridge) of the cook who makes it.
This tart here was designed to be a bright tasting, not overly rich option that could be eaten either hot or cold, for a picnic perhaps or a garden lunch, depending on how the day worked out.
CAVOLO NERO, FETA & APRICOT TART
Despite its striking appearance, this tart is actually fairly quick and easy to make. It involves a light pastry base rather than shortcrust (either bought filo or puff; puff is easier but filo is more impressive); a simple topping that you just mix together and spread on, and then whatever veg additions you fancy. I combined cavolo nero with apricots for mine, but it would work beautifully with asparagus and baby broad beans too, for example.
7 sheets (approx. 250-270g) filo pastry or one 300g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
2 large free range eggs (plus more to brush if you’re using the puff pastry)
Handful of fresh herbs, finely diced
Zest of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & diced
2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
6-8 slim cavolo nero stems
3 apricots, quartered
2 tablespoons of melted butter (for the filo)
More fresh herbs
Mix the feta, ricotta, lemon zest, crème fraîche, olive oil and diced garlic together in a bowl till smooth. Season with lots of black pepper and add the diced herbs. Preheat the oven to 180°c and line a large baking tin with baking parchment.
If you’re using the filo, keep the sheets tightly covered while you work, and work quickly to prevent them drying out. Place the first filo sheet on the parchment and brush all over with a light layer of butter. Continue this process with the rest of the sheets, placing them on top of the sheet below at slightly different angles (go around clockwise) so that they create a basket shape, ensuring each sheet is lightly buttered, paying particular attention to the edges. Press the sheets together slightly, crinkling the parchment around them slightly to help them stand up. (If you’re using puff, just place the pastry sheet onto the parchment and score a frame half an inch in all round lightly with a butter knife).
Tip the feta mixture into the middle of the pastry and spread to half an inch of the edges. If the filo is standing up very high above the mixture, trim the edges slightly so that the mixture is largely in contact with the edges (this will help prevent the filo edges from drying out too much). If you’re using puff pastry, brush the edges with egg at this point. Arrange the cavolo nero and apricot slices around the tart in whatever pattern you fancy, pressing them well down into the mix to help them cook evenly. Bake the tart for 20 minutes or so, or until the mixture has set and the apricots are tender. You may need to strip off a few of the darker bits of the filo if they dry out slightly and crisp up a bit too much, but it won’t affect the taste of the tart in any way. Either serve immediately or leave to cool on a rack. Garnish with more herbs, black pepper, some chilli flakes and a drizzle of olive oil and serve with a dressed green salad on the side.