A savoury start to a tarty weekend…

I know it’s a little strange but while I love to eat savoury tarts, I much prefer to cook sweet ones, they are so much more fun! So I have decided to indulge and do one of each – a savoury number for this post followed by something sweet for the next.

Cooking tarts can be incredibly rewarding but I admit some of them can be a little fiddley. They are definitely worth the effort though as I can guarantee that anyone you cook these for will be suitably impressed.

The most time consuming element is usually preparing the pastry. There are plenty of good quality ready-made pastries available but I usually prefer to make my own. For those of you who haven’t tried it, I assure you it isn’t too difficult, you just need to give yourself some time and be prepared to get your hands dirty!

Tart or quiche?
I’m not sure this issue keeps other people up at night but I have never understood the difference between a savoury tart and a quiche.

After extensive research (ok so more like 2 minutes on Wiki), I discovered that they are in fact one and the same. With that in mind, I can stop worrying about trying to pass my quiches off for tarts!

This particular “tart” is great for a casual lunch or a picnic. Using puff pastry gives a more rustic finish but if you’d prefer a more sophisticated look, replace the puff with shortcrust pastry. For ease I’m using the ready-made variety.

You could easily change up the flavors and use fetta or add some bacon or shredded chicken if you’re looking for something more substantive.

Tomato, ricotta and basil pesto tart
(serves approx. 4 for lunch)

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 120gms ricotta (a mix of firm and soft is ideal)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 small-medium ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced (you could use a collection of heirloom tomatoes if you wanted some variety)
  • Handful kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 bunch basil
  • 30-40mls olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Butter or oil a 23cm tart tin (round or square)* and line the tart tin with the pastry – if the pastry sheet is frozen let it soften before pressing into the tin.
2. To make the basil pesto** blend the basil leaves, garlic cloves, parmesan, pine nuts and about a teaspoon of ground pepper in a small food processor. Add the olive oil in batches until you get a smooth but not too runny consistency (you want it to easily drop off a spoon but not run off). Set aside.
3. Brown the onion in a frypan on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Spread evenly over the bottom of the tart shell along with the cheddar cheese.
4. Cover the onion and cheese with the tomato slices (any old way will do but fanning them out is my preferred method). Dollop the basil pesto on and around the tomato slices, interchanging with the olive halves.
5. Mix the ricotta, cream and eggs together and season with salt and pepper and pour the ricotta mixture over the tart. Fill to the point where you can still see some of the filling. Bake for about 30-35 minutes.
6. Allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before serving, preferably with a nice green salad and glass of wine!

* Alternatively you could use smaller tins -10cm round tins make a good individual lunch option. This recipe would make about 8 but you would need 2 sheets of puff pastry.
** This makes way too much pesto for this tart alone (I would recommend only using about 1/3). Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to a week. Add to pastas or chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches to add a kick.

Happy cooking!