Weekend Foodie: This colourful tart with a heart makes a perfect picnic partner

In her Weekend Foodie column, Di Curtin has a recipe for Colourful Picnic Tart and a tasty strawberry dessert
Weekend Foodie: This colourful tart with a heart makes a perfect picnic partner

A NICHE QUICHE! Di Curtin’s Colourful Picnic Tart will go down a treat at a summer outing

IN the last couple of weeks, with the advent of ‘staycations’, I’ve been noticing the amount of camper-vans on the roads. I’m suffering serious campervan envy, because its always been my dream vehicle if I ever win the lotto!

I get really jealous when I see a camper parked up at the beach and all the family piles out and starts setting up for a meal outdoors. What a fantastic way to eat al fresco — a feast out of the back of a van — in any scenic spot you choose.

One recent lovely evening, I was admiring a vintage camper parked at my local beach. It belonged to an older couple, who kindly invited me to have a look inside. I found it neatly kitted out with two single beds, proper little kitchen with cooker and fridge, shower, toilet and wardrobes. A home from home for this happy pair, who had wandered the highways and byways of Ireland in it many times over the years.

The beauty of the outdoor way of life in summer gives us a chance to think about food in a different way. Whether you own a camper for an extended holiday, are chancing a night under the stars in a tent, or just want to get away for the day, you have to think about how you’re going to eat, because it can get very expensive to dine out in Ireland’s popular beauty spots.

Fish and chips by the sea is a real treat, but can be costly for a family of four or more. This weekend, I’ve got a perfect tart that makes economical eating to feed four generously as a great outdoor lunch.

Colourful, easy to make and transport, this goes well with classic salads like potato salad, coleslaw and mixed leaves, or more contemporary ideas like couscous, rice, pasta or grain and seed based ideas..

Outdoor desserts are a bit more tricky, as delicate puds don’t travel well! Strawberries marinated in elderflower syrup and mint make a simple finale. The fruit can be prepped marinated while you’re eating lunch, so you can make it easily on the hoof.

Or, prepare at home and pack in a snap top plastic box for serving in situ. Throw a pot of fresh cream into the cool bag to accompany. My motto: Have delicious food, will travel!

RECIPES

COLOURFUL PICNIC TART

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 rashers smoked or green bacon, rinded and chopped Oil and butter for cooking 100g mushrooms, wiped and sliced 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved 3 fresh free range eggs 300mls cream Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tbsp grated mature cheddar, plus extra for topping

Method

Place pastry ingredients in a bowl and whizz to form a ball. Wrap in film, refrigerate for 20 minutes or till firm enough to roll out.

Fry bacon crisp in a non-stick frying pan with a splash of oil. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Add mushrooms to frying pan with a knob of butter and cook till browned. Add tomatoes to just soften slightly. Remove and cool completely.

Roll out pastry to fit a 20cm fluted loose bottomed greased quiche tin. Line tin and trim edges. Roll up any excess pastry and freeze for another time.

Prick base of pastry with a fork without piercing right through.

Line with greaseproof and baking beans and bake blind at Gas 5 375F 190C for 10 minutes or until pastry is beginning to firm up. Remove greaseproof and baking beans Beat eggs with cream and season. Stir in the cheese.

Arrange bacon and veggies in the base of the pastry case.

Pour over egg mix and scatter over the chives. Sprinkle top with extra grated cheese.

Return to oven to bake for 20 minutes or until set and golden.

Remove from oven and cool completely before transporting.

ELDERFLOWER AND MINT MARINATED STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g strawberries, hulled and rinsed 3 tbsp elderflower cordial Squeeze of lemon juice Few fresh mint leaves, torn

Method

Pat strawberries dry then halve and place in a bowl.

Add elderflower cordial, lemon juice and mint leaves and toss through.

Leave for at least 15 minutes before eating.

Serve with cream.


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