The crust of this tart does more than just hold the filling in place – it is delicious in its own right. I use half malted granary flour, some of my favourite seeds and fresh thyme and chives in the pastry, which give it plenty of texture, colour and flavour. If you are in a hurry you can use pre-prepared pastry, but nothing can surpass home-made pastry.
What you need:
One 23cm (9 inch) metal flan ring or fluted loose bottomed flan tin, ceramic baking beans. *
FOR THE PASTRY:
– 115g / 4oz cold butter (1 stick)
– 85g / 3oz plain flour * (⅔ cup)
– 85g / 3oz malted granary flour * (⅔ cup)
– 5ml / 1 tsp linseed *
– 5ml / 1 tsp poppy seeds
– 5ml / 1 tsp pumpkin seeds
– 1 free-range egg yolk (UK medium / USA large) *
– 20ml / 4 tsp cold water
– Pinch of salt
– 1 tsp finely chopped chives
– ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
FOR THE FILLING:
– 20 spears of asparagus, (approx 500g / 1lb 2oz)
– 150g / 5oz Swiss chard
– 2 large shallots
– 55g / 2oz finely grated parmesan (½ cup)
– 125g / 4oz goats’ cheese log with a bloomy rind
– 200ml / ¾ cup double cream *
– 200ml / ¾ cup crème fraîche
– 3 free-range eggs (UK medium / USA large) *
– Salt, pepper and nutmeg
– Paprika and a handful of pine nuts *
What you do:
For the pastry: Put all the ingredients into a food processor. Using the ‘pulse’ button, process until the mixture resembles chunky breadcrumbs. (To make by hand: Mix the flour, seeds, salt and herbs. Rub in the butter, then mix in the egg and water). Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with the hands to form a smooth ball, working as lightly as possible.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry into a circle of approximately 36cm (14 inches) diameter and to a thickness of 5mm (¼ inch). Line the flan ring with the pastry, leaving the pastry standing at least 1cm (½ inch) above the top of the tin, to allow for shrinkage when it cooks. If you use scissors to trim the top it is less likely to shrink down. Chill for at least 20 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC / 400ºF.
Line the flan with baking parchment or foil and fill it with ceramic baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the beans and bake for a further 5 – 10 minutes to crisp up the base.
For the filling: Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody end sections of the stems and discarding them, then cut off the tips and keep to one side. Cut the remainder of the stems into 5cm (2 inch) lengths. Cook the tips lightly in boiling salted water, then remove and cook the stems, which will take a little longer. Chill in cold water when cooked, drain and keep on one side.
Wash the Swiss chard. Remove the coarse stems. Blanch the leaves in boiling, salted water for just a few seconds, or longer if the leaves are large and coarse. Drain well.
Chop the shallots very finely and place them in the base of the tart. Sprinkle with half of the parmesan, then lay the asparagus and chard on top, finish with the remaining parmesan.
Slice the goats’ cheese log into 9 rounds and arrange them on the top of the asparagus and chard.
Whisk together the cream, crème fraîche and eggs. Season with a pinch of salt and nutmeg and a few twists of black pepper and pour over the tart. Sprinkle with pine nuts and dust with paprika.
Bake at 190ºC / 375ºF for 30 minutes or until the filling is set and the top is golden in colour. Serve warm.
Enjoy the picnic! If you’re craving more royal recipes, there are 100 more delicious dishes created by Robb, in her new cookbook: The Royal Touch: Simply Stunning Home Cooking From A Royal Chef. And if you’d like your very own copy, ACC Art Books is offering Urban Suburban Mommy’s readers a 35% discount, just use promo code: ROYAL to save on your order!
Carolyn Robb was Personal Chef to TRH Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry for ten years.