Hi everyone. 🙂 Before I go strawberry mad I am happy to add this farm fresh, rustic filo tart I made for dinner a few weeks ago. It’s a lovely light tart perfect for a warm spring or summer brunch, lunch or evening meal.
The filling is made with simple, fresh ingredients; gorgeous eggs fresh from my neighbour’s chickens, ricotta, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and some warm, fresh grassy dill, all encased in some buttery, flaky filo pastry. We enjoyed it with served with a frilly salad, crusty slices of bread and a little glob of peach chutney. We don’t eat a huge amount of meat but if you like, keeping it light, you can add some thinly sliced pastrami or smoked salmon and also a scattering of black or green olive slices on top would be great). I left these off as the family is not keen on them, actually ‘not keen’ is an understatement, they hate them!
If you’ve never used filo it’s high time you did! (my Nana’s saying)! Once you realise how easy and no fuss it is you’ll be whipping up all sorts of little flakey pies and tarts in your kitchen! I love the rustic look filo pastry adds to pies and tarts, it’s just a case of brushing melted butter on a few pieces and laying them over the tin and then tucking over the edges, easy peasy!
Years ago I worked for an amazingly talented and passionate chef who was also incredibly scary (no surprises there). I made some French apple tarts (can’t wait to do that recipe! SO GOOD) and I ‘burnt’ them. He wasn’t around so I threw them into the rubbish bin and started to make some more. Next minute he walks in, sees them in the bin and starts yelling and screaming asking who threw them out. I was crapping myself “Sorry, it was me, I burnt them”….”What?!” he yells “These are perfect! Just how they are baked in France! Look at them, deeply golden and the sugar you sprinkled over has beautifully caramelised!” I couldn’t believe it and have never undercooked my pastry since. Oh and after I got screamed at another chef walked by and whispered in my ear “Don’t you know if you throw something out you need to cover it over with other rubbish” lol.
Right, I’m done rabbiting on for today as my oldest and dearest friend is coming to stay and I have to start pulling out some, I mean a zillion weeds out of my garden because she’s a professional gardener and she’ll pretend she doesn’t see them but I’ll be ashamed of myself, haha.
12 medium sized fresh asparagus spears (or 14 small/10 large)
6 cherry tomatoes
1 small or 1/2 medium sized lemon (you need 1 teaspoon of the zest)
2 tablespoons fresh dill
3 large eggs (i used size 7’s)
1 cup ricotta (250 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
50 grams butter (3 1/2 tablespoons)
7 sheets filo pastry
Optional – ½ cup torn up smoked salmon slices or pastrami
Optional – 1 tablespoon black or green sliced olives
Serves x 6
- Ricotta can be a little expensive if you are on a budget but you can easily switch it for cottage cheese. 🙂
You will need a 25 cm (10 inch) round quiche/flan tin.
Prepare the asparagus first. Rinse them with cold water and then using your fingers, snap off the bottom ends, they will naturally snap off where the woody part ends and the fresh, juicy asparagus begins.
Fill a frying pan or large saucepan (big enough for the asparagus to lie flat) with water. Over a high heat bring the water to a boil and then place the asparagus into the water.
Let them cook until they are tneder but not soft (my medium sized spears took around 4 minutes but smaller ones will take around 3 minutes and larger 5).
Remove them from the water and place them into a colander or a sieve and then gently run some cold water over them to cool them down.
- See in this pic one of my spears was older. It’s a yucky green and will be tough to eat, so discard any like that.
Next chop them into 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) pieces and set them aside.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, zest the lemon and remove the dill from any thick stalks also tearing up any large leaves. Set them aside with the asparagus.
Time to turn the oven on. Place a rack in the middle of the bottom half of the oven (a bit lower in the oven than usual just to help the bottom cook better). Then preheat to 170°C fan bake oven or 190°C conventional oven, on bake.
Next place the butter into a little saucepan and leave it to melt over a low heat. Once melted turn off the heat and leave it aside.
In a medium sized bowl whisk the eggs together until they are broken up and frothy.
Add the asparagus pieces (but not the tips), the lemon zest, the dill, the ricotta and the salt and pepper.
Using a large spoon, mix it up well. If using salmon or pastrami fold it in after it’s all mixed together otherwise the salmon may break up too much.
- If you haven’t used filo pastry before when you have the filo laid out on your board or bench you may like to place a damp tea towel over it because if you take a long time when working with it, it will dry out and go crumbly. Just make sure though that the tea towel is well wrung out after you’ve wet it or it will be too wet and ruin the pastry. If you think you are going to be really fast, don’t worry about it, lol.
Lay out all of the filo onto a board or your clean bench.
Carefully peel one piece from the top of the pile and place it onto another board or your bench. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the melted butter all over it (you don’t need to fully cover it, I usually cover just over 3/4 of it).
Lay another piece directly on top of the buttered one and butter it also.
Spray your dish with non-stick cooking spray or grease by lightly brushing on some of the melted butter with the pastry brush.
Then place the two sheets into and over your dish…..no need to fold the sides in yet.
Repeat by buttering another sheet of filo, laying another one on top, buttering that also and then lay them over like the first but lay them over the tin in a different place than the first time, on an angle (you can’t go too wrong here, it’s a rustic looking tart).
Do it again with another two sheets, laying them over where you think there’s a gap.
Now loosely fold all of the sides in and again it’s not meant to look perfect, it will lose its simple charm!
Now brush one more layer of filo with the butter and again lay it over top of the whole thing and…..
…..fold the edges right into the tart bottom of the dish, giving the bottom an extra layer.
Pour out the contents of the bowl into the buttery filo casing and…..
…..nicely place the asparagus tips and the cherry tomato halves all over the top. Also if you are using sliced olives scatter them over the top too.
- If you are a black pepper freak like me you can crack a little over here.
Pop it into your preheated oven and bake it for 20 minutes or until the centre of the tart is firm to touch and the filo is a good golden brown.
- If you cook it too long and the filo turns dark brown it will be sharp to eat and will be really flakey/crumbly so try not to take it that far. I always try to take pastry as far as I can before it starts to burn otherwise it will be insipid, especially after the pie or tart has been in the fridge.
Leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before using a very sharp knife to slice it up. My tin has a spring bottom so I carefully lift that out and then with the help of a spatula slide the tart onto a plate.
- If your knife isn’t sharp it will push the tomatoes into the tart and it won’t look as pretty!
Delicious with a small garnish for lunch or a large salad and some nice crusty bread for dinner.
Storage – Loosely wrap (so as not to break the fragile filo) and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.