Can you be seduced by a vegetable tart? I’ve flirted with vegetarian food in the guise of being healthier and saving the planet. Who hasn’t? But it doesn’t last. Not even. My upbringing in Malaysia and and its myriad of meat-y cuisines makes it seemingly unpalatable.
However, this simply amazing roast vegetable tart makes the whole idea of going meat-free a few days a week plausible. If vegetables can taste this great, who would quibble? I purchased this cookbook without realising Plenty is a vegetarian cookbook. (I am somewhat of a slut for award-winning cookbooks, put a gold sticker on a cookbook, and it will find its way into my Amazon basket). This cookbook had been sitting forlornly on my shelf for near-on a year before my sudden vegetarian urge took me on a hunt for recipes across all my cookbooks.
Ottolenghi’s background means the recipes have a surprising and delicious Mediterranean/Israeli twist. This recipe is long, but there’s some waiting around, so make sure you have a timer on hand, and other chores to do around the house.
Prep and cooking time: 2 ½ hours
1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper
100ml olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 3cm dice
1 or 2 small kumara, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1 small courgette, cut into 2cm dice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
300g shortcrust pastry
8 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium eggs
150ml cream (the original recipe calls for 200ml double cream)
salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 230°C. Cut around and remove the stem of the peppers, and remove the seeds. Shake out the seeds. Place the two peppers in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and place on the top shelf in the oven.
Line an oven tray with baking paper. Mix the diced eggplant in a bowl with 4 Tbsp of olive oil, some salt and pepper. Spread on the baking paper and place in the oven on the shelf beneath the peppers, and roast for 12 minutes. Add the diced sweet potato to the mix and turn the peppers, and roast for a further 12 minutes. Lastly, add diced courgettes to the mix, and roast for a further 12 minutes.
Remove all from oven, and turn the temperature down to 160°C. Sweat the peppers by putting in bowl and covering with foil. When cooled, peel the skin and tear into strips.
While vegetables are roasting, sauté the onions, bay leaves and some salt in 2 Tbsp olive oil under low heat for 25 minutes, until the are soft and caramelized. Discard bay leaves and set aside.
Spray a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Roll out pastry to fit, and allow extra to hang over the side (the pastry will shrink during baking). Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 30 minutes. Remove paper and beans, and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool a little. Increase oven temperature to 180°C
Scatter the caramelized onion in the pastry case, top with roasted vegetables. Scatter half the thyme leaves, then dot with small chunks of cheeses and place cherry halves. I also made some mini ones, as I always have pastry left over, and it seems like a shame to waste them.
Whisk egg and cream with some salt and pepper. Pour into the tart case, and scatter remaining thyme. Bake for 45 minutes until filling sets and turn golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving, and enjoy!