Free-form tart with spring vegetables

Blanched or roasted root vegetables serve as a fresh and tasty topping to this pastry dish. Serve as pretty starter, or magnificent meat-free Monday mains.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 35 minutes + 30 minutes for resting

Cooking time: 35 minutes


150g chopped butter
2/3 cup (160ml) water
2 1/2 cups (375g) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt
250g ricotta
1 1/2 cups (375ml) petit pois (baby peas)
Salt and black pepper
2 big handfuls of spring vegetables such as baby carrots, baby fennel, sugar snaps, asparagus, fine french beans and small pickling onions or shallots
peeled pea shoots
1 lightly beaten eggs, mixed with 2Tbsp (30ml) cream


To make the pastry:
Place the butter and water in a small saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Add the flour and salt and stir until a smooth dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the filling:
While the dough rests, make the filling. Combine the ricotta and peas in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Peel the carrots and cut off the hard stalks from the asparagus. Blanche all the baby veg in boiling salted water for a few seconds. Drain and plunge into ice cold water. Set aside until needed.

To assemble the pies:
Heat the oven to 180°C. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into four rough circles. Lift the circles onto a baking tray using the rolling pin. Spread some of the ricotta filling in the centre of each circle, but reserve some for serving. Pile some of the baby veg on each circle (again, reserve a few veggies for serving) and fold the sides of the dough up around the filling. Brush the pastry with egg wash and bake in the oven until golden (about 35 minutes). Remove from the oven, dot spoonfuls of the reserved ricotta and a few of the reserved baby veg and pea shoots on top of each tart. Serve warm or at room temperature.

By Vickie de Beer
Photographs by Lee Malan

Extract from the 2012 issue of Eat In. Click here to buy your copy online.

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