We’ve all gone a bit mad for kale recently. There’s a lot to recommend it, grown in the UK, cheap and with plenty of health benefits it seems a no brainer to add it to the shopping list. But as enthusiastic as I feel, I still have some work to do in promoting the benefits of a big plate of the green stuff to my carnivorous other half.
Last year, I attended an amazing fish cookery course at Square Food Foundation. We cooked a lovely range of dishes, and one that stuck in my mind was a wonderfully luxurious crab tart. So with my kale promotional mission in mind, I thought it would be a nice idea, instead of the crab, to smuggle a bit of this green wonder into the rich and creamy custard that made up the filling of the tart. And along with the kale, a handful of bright peas, some mounds of fresh and ever so slightly sour ewes cheese and a smattering of dill to make up a spring concoction that even the carnivore found hard to resist.
I’ll be clear from the start, this is no 5 minute meal. Making, and blind baking the pastry does take time, but there is little more satisfying than presenting a tart make from scratch to a hungry crowd. You could always buy a pastry case though, shh.
This is wonderful whilst warm from the oven, creamy yet light, and would be perfect for a spring lunch with friends. It also keeps well so can be enjoyed cold the next day.
If you do not have a shortcrust recipe, this is as easy to follow as any. You will need to double the quantity.
5/10g fresh dill
one red onion
150g pot of fresh ewes cheese (0r ricotta or feta as an alternative)
50g grated parmesan
200ml full cream milk
2 egg yolks
For the pastry:
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
You will need 340g shortcrust pastry and a 30cm tart tin. Roll out on a floured surface until the pastry comfortably fills the tart tin, leaving enough pastry to hang over the edge of the tin all the way round. Do not trim at this point. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork.
Using a layer of baking parchment to line the inside of the tart, fill it with baking beans to blind bake the case. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and and bake again for 10 minutes. Now you can trim the excess pastry from the edges with a sharp knife (this is so that the pastry doesn’t shrink). Brush the pastry with egg white and bake for a further 5 minutes. Leave aside while you make the filling.
For the filling:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Slice the onion and sweat on a low heat until translucent, set aside. Blanche the kale in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and when cool, squeeze off the excess water and chop finely. If using frozen peas, put them in a pan of hot water for a moment, just to defrost and set aside. If you love dill, use 10g but the flavour is quite overpowering so use less according to your requirements, roughly chop and set aside with the other vegetables.
Make the custard: add the milk, cream and eggs to a large bowl and mix together well. Add the kale, onion, peas, dill and parmesan to the custard and season well.
Pour the custard into the tart and distribute the soft cheese over the top of the tart with a teaspoon, so that you get an effect of little separate floating islands.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes
Cool on a wire rack and serve warm. Delicious!