The mint leaves in the pesto give this baby spinach & courgette tart a gloriously fresh, summery taste. This is really three recipes in one – the pastry recipe is incredibly useful for all sorts of different tarts (and you can simply add a teaspoon of caster sugar if using it for a sweet recipe) – and the pesto also has numerous uses. It is delicious spooned over hot new potatoes, it makes a fantastic base layer on bruschetta or homemade pizza and it is equally good mixed into some linguine with a bit of extra Parmesan on top (the consistency is easily altered by adding a little more olive oil).
- 175g flour
- 115g butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp milk
- a pinch of salt
- Sift the flour and salt onto a work surface and make a well in the middle.
- Cut the butter into tiny pieces and rub into the flour until the consistency of breadcrumbs is achieved – be careful not to over work.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the egg, salt and milk
- Work the ingredients together with the blade of a knife until loosely. incorporated. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until a dough is formed.
- If strapped for time, you can follow the processor method and place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until blended.
- Chill before use.
Wrap in cling film when chilling to stop it drying out (especially if you are keeping it in the fridge for longer than just the chilling time). This pastry freezes well. I tend to freeze mine in the tart case after baking blind (see below) so it’s totally ready to go once defrosted.
- 20g mint leaves
- 20g parsley leaves
- 20g basil leaves
- 60g pine nuts
- 60g Parmesan, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 50ml olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 500g baby spinach, wilted, thoroughly drained and roughly chopped
- 1-2 courgettes
- butter for greasing
- 3 eggs
- 2 extra egg yolks
- 100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 150ml double cream
- 125g mascarpone
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lightly grease a large (26cm) deep tart tin with a little butter
- Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin, gently pushing the pastry down into the corners to minimise shrinking
- Chill for half an hour before baking
- Preheat oven to 200C / Gas 6
- Dock the pastry by piercing the base with a fork in several places
- Cover the pastry with a piece of baking parchment, making sure you cut the piece of parchment big enough to come up the edges as well, then pour baking beans on top of the parchment (you can use dry beans or rice if you don’t have any baking beans)
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and the baking beans and return the pastry case to the oven for a further 5 minutes until the base is cooked through
- Reduce oven temperature to 180C / Gas 4
- Meanwhile, place the fresh herbs, Parmesan, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and blitz to a course paste
- Add the olive oil little by little, intermittently pulsing the mixture
- Finally, add a big squeeze of lemon juice, stir then season to taste
- Spread the pesto onto the base of the cooked pastry case
- Distribute the wilted spinach evenly over the pesto base
- Beat the eggs, extra yolks, cream, mascarpone & cheddar together until smooth
- Pour the mixture over the spinach
- Top and tail the courgette and cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
- Place the courgette ribbons neatly on top of the tart, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for around 25 minutes until set
- Remove and allow to cool a bit before removing from the tin, then serve